Federal marijuana legalization bill advances in Congress

States would be given the right to regulate cannabis if law is passed

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Monday that would legalize marijuana at the federal level.

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The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, or MORE, Act removes marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, details plans to use revenues from an excise tax on marijuana products to address the needs of communities that have most seriously been affected by the war on drugs and provides for the expungement of federal marijuana conviction and arrests.

As a result, states would be free to regulate marijuana as they choose.

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During the markup of the bill, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chaiman of the House Judiciary Committee, said federal action would acknowledge the idea spreading among states that the treatment of marijuana needs to be modified.

"These steps are long overdue,” Nadler, D-N.Y. said. “For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one’s views on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating users at the federal level is unwise and unjust.”

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More than 30 states, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use. Eleven states have legalized recreational use.

Moving forward, the MORE Act could pass the Democratic-controlled House, but it will likely have a tougher time being approved in the Senate, where Republicans have a majority.

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