Despite Cannabis Win, Legality Still Unlikely For Now

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While cannabis scored a big win Friday (Dec. 4) with the U.S. House of Representatives passing a bill to legalize it, legal weed still isn’t likely to happen that soon, according to a CNN report.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (known as the MORE Act) would effectively legalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and create a shared federal and state control of cannabis programs, CNN writes. It will also reduce barriers to research, alleviate some banking and tax woes and do away with some past cannabis offenses, along with more diversification in the industry. But it doesn’t force states to legalize cannabis.

The bill is unlikely to pass in a Republican-controlled Senate, CNN writes, with prominent Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still opposed to legal marijuana. And any bill not already signed into law by Jan. 3 when Congress adjourns will have to be reintroduced. Jodi Avergun, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief of staff, who now works with law firm Cadwalader, said that will likely be how things go for the MORE Act.

While advocates were pleased that the bill passed the House, some also critiqued the introduction of some last-minute revisions to the bill, CNN writes, including a narrowing of how tax dollars can be used and who would be eligible for records expungement. Maritza Perez, director of the office of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, said they “recognize and celebrate the historic nature of today’s vote, we know we need to put in significant work in the next Congress to build a bill that fully aligns with our principles,” CNN reports.

The road to legalization for cannabis has been a long and difficult one, with various attempts to alleviate stresses over the years, like a recent California bill that would let banking institutions work with cannabis companies without being considered to have committed a crime.

Cannabis companies have long had troubles in the world of banking, and while Hypur Chief Revenue Officer Tyler Beuerlein says the notion that those companies can’t get banked at all is an oversimplification, he told PYMNTS that there’s still “a bit of a stigma” with cannabis companies, and that the industry is considered “high risk.”

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