This story originally appeared on Benzinga
A key House committee on Wednesday formally advanced a bill to federally legalize marijuana to the floor, making in order a number of amendments and blocking others as part of a final rule. A full chamber vote is expected on Friday, reported Marijuana Moment
The House Rules Committee, which took up the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement, MORE Act, discussed proposed revisions, mostly from GOP lawmakers seeking to insert additional restrictions into the reform measure.
Sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, promote equity in the industry and impose a federal tax on marijuana products to fund various initiatives.
At the start of Wednesday’s hearing, Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said that the legislation would “address our nation’s failed approach to the war on drugs” and “put racial justice at the heart of our nation’s federal cannabis policy.”
He noted racial disparities in marijuana enforcement, emphasizing that “none of us should be OK with a system that treats people differently based on the color of their skin” and “no life should be destroyed by decades of failed policy.”
“It’s past time that we show the moral courage to do something about it,” McGovern said.
In his opening remarks, Nadler said the legislation would “reverse decades of failed federal policies based on the criminalization of marijuana” and “also take steps to address the heavy toll these policies have taken across the country, particularly amongst communities of color.”
Nadler also addressed the collateral consequences of cannabis convictions, or even arrests, which “can be devastating” and affect a person’s ability to access educational aid, housing opportunities, government assistance and more. Such exclusions have created a “permanent second class status for millions of Americans,” Nadler said.
But Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), ranking member of a Judiciary subcommittee, argued that “even for those who think that it is a good idea to legalize marijuana, the approach reflected in this bill is shortsighted, adding that “supporters of this bill have not adequately considered the effect of this legislation on the American public and especially on our children.”
One filed amendment noted Marijuana Moment “would have far-reaching implications by providing relief for people who have been denied a security clearance over marijuana at any point over the past half-century.” Another would lower the proposed tax rate on cannabis in the bill.
When the MORE Act reaches the floor, it will mark the second time in history that cannabis legalization legislation has been taken up by a full chamber of Congress.