Though the House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill to decriminalize marijuana and tax it in states where it is legal, there’s little likelihood the measure will become law, industry experts said Friday.
The panel voted 24-10 to send the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, which would remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances and leave it up to states to decide whether it should be legal. It also would expunge convictions for possession and impose a 5% federal tax on pot sales in states where it is legal.
“What’s interesting is that no other topic has this level of bipartisan support across the country like cannabis does,” Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of SIVA Enterprises, said in an email. “However, in today’s partisan political climate, bills like the MORE Act are turning into political statements and weapons. Even though the MORE Act has a Republican sponsor in Matt Gaetz, it’s a Democrat-sponsored bill that Republican politicians are going to be inclined to shoot down just so it doesn’t go down as a win for the other side.”
Samantha Collins, chief marketing officer of Bhang Corp., called Wednesday’s action “a big step in the right direction” but took issue with allowing the states to determine whether pot would be legalized.
“We are excited to see progress however limited being made. Criminalization of marijuana has done too much damage to our communities and we strongly support the efforts to make it fully legal,” Collins said.
“We support the MORE Act and the steps it takes to not only federally decriminalize cannabis but also to address damages caused by the war on drugs,” said Tim Conder, chief operating officer of TILT Holdings.
In the first year recreational marijuana was legal in Massachusetts, customers spent $393.7 million on marijuana products, the Cannabis Control Commission reported this week. In Colorado, where recreational use has been legal since 2014, revenue exceeds $1 billion annually.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use while 33 and the district have legalized it for medical use. Several states have marijuana referendums on the 2020 election ballot.
A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry indicates marijuana legalization leads to increased use and possible addiction.
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