Kamala Harris and Jerry Nadler Introduce Federal Decriminalization Bill

We’ve been fighting for cannabis legalization and decriminalization for quite some time now. Maybe, just maybe, things might finally be looking up. 

California Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ stance on cannabis has changed a lot since 2010. Back when she was elected to the California attorney general’s office, Harris felt that cannabis could harm communities, and thus, voted against bills to regulate and tax recreational cannabis in California.

Yet, in 2015 during California’s Democratic State Convention, Harris called to “end the federal ban on medical marijuana,” and further, admitted to smoking weed in an interview with The Breakfast Club this past February. 

Now, Harris is collaborating with House Judiciary Chair, Jerry Nadler, to sponsor the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019. By removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, the bill would federally decriminalize cannabis flower and expunge records of those convicted of low-level cannabis crime. Furthermore, it enacts a 5% cannabis tax to provide grants for job training, legal aid, and rehabilitation to communities most affected by the country’s war on cannabis. 

“Racially motivated enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionately impacted communities of color,” Nadler said in a statement. “It’s past time to right this wrong nationwide and work to view marijuana use as an issue of personal choice and public health, not criminal behavior.”

While federal decriminalization would remove federal penalties, such as jail time, for cannabis offenses, states would still be able to determine their own approach to possession and sales. MORE will also prohibit federal agencies from denying benefits to those using cannabis, and prevent immigrants from being deported for cannabis-related convictions.

This is all great and promising news for us cannabis users, however, with a Republican-controlled Senate, it is difficult to predict the bill’s outcome. Regardless, with almost all of the 2020 Democratic candidates advocating for decriminalization, we are hopeful for the future of America’s flourishing cannabis industry. 


Emerald contributor since June 2019


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