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House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana, expunge prior convictions

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2022 | Expungement

So far, 18 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, including Washington State. And 37 states have decriminalized cannabis at least for medicinal purposes. The national trend is toward treating legalization and away from punishing individuals for buying, selling, growing or using this substance.

Still, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Lawmakers in the House are hoping to change that. They recently passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. If it becomes law, the MORE Act will remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances. It would also create a process for individuals to expunge federal marijuana-related convictions from their criminal records.

In addition, the MORE Act would tax marijuana sales to create a special fund. Money would be spent on loans to small marijuana businesses owned or controlled by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.” It would also go toward legal aid, addiction treatment, job training and other social programs.

Lives held back by a federal conviction

Federal drug charges are felonies. Having a federal marijuana crime on your record can make it extremely tough to go to college, find a steady job or get approved for a bank loan. This is a fact of life for too many people in the Seattle-Tacoma area. An avenue toward expunging their record would be a huge boost in their prospects and quality of life.

Will the MORE Act become law?

Unfortunately, the MORE Act’s prospects are not great. It still has to pass the Senate by at least 60 votes, which appears unlikely due to the chamber being divided by party 50-50. Still, the fact that the House has passed this bill shows how popular the idea of decriminalizing marijuana has become in the U.S.