Congress Just Took a Huge Step Toward Full Marijuana Legalization

Full cannabis legalization has never been more promising than it is now. The pieces are slowly but surely falling into place and bringing us closer... and closer.

The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would take cannabis off Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Now, that bill will go to the full House of Representatives, where it has a real chance of passing.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler's Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) would effectively legalize cannabis for recreational use in any state that allows it.

What's more, it would gather a 5% sales tax on cannabis sales, with the money going toward job training and legal assistance to those whose lives have been adversely affected by the government's long war on drugs. It would provide for expungement of the records of people convicted of cannabis-related "crimes" and require federal agencies to adjust to reality by, for example, not denying security clearances based on cannabis use.

This is a very good bill. If it passes, it would be good for the industry, for those who paid dearly during the years before cannabis was legal, and for the country.

And I can't overemphasize what this indicates for full legalization heading into 2020...

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Full Legalization Is Becoming More of a Reality

Other legislations, like the SAFE Banking Act, bills allowing research into cannabis, and laws increasing access for veterans are all great things.

But this is the bill people have been waiting for.

The Judiciary Committee is not some small, rogue committee in the House with no real influence. A spot on the House Judiciary Committee is one of the most coveted seats in Congress, and it has enormous oversight over some of the country's most important laws.

Jerrold Nadler has been an operator in Congress for over 25 years. So yes, the vote itself is a huge deal.

And that leads us to Congress.

You should know that Congress is probably not going to legalize cannabis based on this bill. Not this year, at any rate. It is unlikely to get through the Senate. It might even not pass the full House, though I think the House might surprise political pundits out there.

However, that the bill is not going to become law doesn't diminish its importance.

Like I said, the Judiciary Committee voting to decriminalize cannabis is historic. And, of course, if the entire House ends up voting in favor of this bill, that would be amazing.

But there's an even bigger story playing out here...

The Normalization of Cannabis Continues to Expand

It's all part of the evolving story that I told you about back in August on the increasing acceptance of cannabis. Even a year ago, the committee would not have brought up this bill. Whatever his feelings on the matter, Jerry Nadler would quietly have buried any bill to prevent his members from having to make a "difficult" vote.

For better or worse, that's part of a committee chair's job: to protect his fellow members. This year, he's sponsoring the bill.

The vote in favor of cannabis is no longer difficult.

The final vote count makes it look like this is a partisan issue. Most of the votes in favor of the bill were from Democrats, and all of the votes against were from Republicans.

But that's not a fair characterization.

I listened to the committee proceedings, and many Republicans actually do want to take part in something that legalizes cannabis. They realize that Congress is well behind the states and the American people on the issue. In fact, many of the Republicans don't flat-out disagree with the bill as a whole; some just don't support particular parts of it, and some think that it's currently premature.

Look at U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). He voted against the bill, but he said that he "believe[s] we need to change our attitudes and our processes because the federal government has completely failed in this area."

Everyone in Congress knows what's coming, and they want to be part of history.

Overall, this is outstanding news for the cannabis industry, and it sets the stage for a future legalization bill that will pass the House and the Senate and gain the president's signature.

It's probably not going to happen this year, but for the very first time, I have high hopes that it will happen as soon as next year.

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