The U.S. House of Representatives’ long-awaited vote to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level has been postponed until after Election Day, drawing criticism from pot advocates.
The House was scheduled to vote in mid September on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge some criminal records, and create funding for people and communities impacted by the War on Drugs.
Some progressive Democrats expressed frustration with the delay.
“I feel like the impulse to delay the expungement of people’s records is a fear-based response to [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-KY] and the Republican Party,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, said. “And I personally don’t think that we should be governing that way. I don’t think that when Democrats have power, like a House majority, that we should be drafting our agenda based out of fear of Republicans.”
But moderate Democrats expressed concerns about voting on the measure before wrapping up coronavirus legislation, according to The Hill.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, who removed the MORE Act from the schedule, said Democratic leaders remain “committed” to voting on the legislation before the end of the year.
“Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to stave off a damaging government shutdown and continuing to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hoyer told The Hill. “Later this autumn, the House will pass the MORE Act with strong support as yet another crucial step toward making our justice system fair for all Americans.”
Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, said in a statement that the “delay does not change the fact that the overwhelming majority of voters support ending the federal prohibition of cannabis, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.”