Legislation in U.S. Congress to Decriminalize Marijuana Gains 111 Sponsors, with President Biden Supporting Decriminalization

In the U.S. Congress, bicameral legislation to decriminalize marijuana now has 111 sponsors. Although President Biden has not given a position on these measures, his press secretary says it’s “very, very clear” he support the decriminalization of marijuana.

In May, a coalition of 18 United States senators filed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) to deschedule marijuana and allow the expungement of past marijuana convictions. Filing of the bill came a little over a year after the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was filed in the House with five sponsors. The MORE Act, which would also deschedule marijuana, now has 92 sponsors.

Combined, the two bills have 1110 sponsors, all Democrat. The SAFE and SAFER Banking Acts are the only other marijuana-related bills in US Congress with more support.

Both the MORE Act and CAOA would fully deschedule marijuana, effectively decriminalizing it nationwide. Both measures would also establish a federal excise tax on legal marijuana sales and allow for the expungement of previous marijuana convictions.

The CAOA would go a step further by establishing federal safety standards for legal marijuana products, including creating a Center for Cannabis Products within the FDA, tasked with regulating the production, labeling, distribution, sales, and other manufacturing and retail aspects of the cannabis industry.

In 2022, a previous version of the MORE Act was passed by the House when Democrats were in control, but it failed to advance in the Senate, with Republicans and Democrats evenly split.

Although President Biden has not given a stance on the CAOA or MORE Act, in April’, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said “Look, [on] decriminalization the president has been very, very clear he doesn’t believe that anyone should be in jail, or be prosecuted, just for using or possessing marijuana. He continues to say that. He believes that”. Jean-Pierre gave this response when asked “does the White House believe that it has done enough as it relates to the issue of marijuana?”

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