By Jelena Martinovic
On Friday, the House of Representatives voted 228 to 164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.
The legislation — first introduced by Rep Jerrold Nadler and sponsored by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — is poised to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level. It’s intended to eliminate cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and also cancel criminal penalties related to marijuana.
As the dust around voting settles, cannabis industry experts say the upper chamber’s current Republican control could jeopardize the effort.
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic said in an analyst note on Monday that “without Democrats gaining the two Senate seats in GA on Jan 5th, we would put the chances of SAFE passing the Senate in the next two years at less than 30% (tough to see it as part of a COVID relief package), STATES at 10%, and MORE at 1%.”
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In addition, only five House Republicans voted in favor of the bill, he noted.
He pointed out that they are “growing more pessimistic about federal level cannabis reform” over the course of the next couple of years.
Cannabis Reform Deepens Rift Between Parties
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is only adding fuel to the fire, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats — when it comes to the cannabis reform — is more substantial than previously assumed.
“Senate Republicans are focused on targeted proposals for COVID relief, but over in the House, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats are chronically prioritizing marijuana legislation over COVID relief,” McConnell said last Thursday.
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McConnell’s “mocking” of cannabis reform efforts conducted by Democrats only demonstrates that “MJ reform will be one more of the many topics that divide the two parties,” according to the analyst.
In addition, giving up on the “incrementalism” approach to cannabis reform is the right path, taking into account a Republican-controlled Senate, Zuanic noted.
“This is not the time for incrementalism – this is no time for half-stepping,” Harris disclosed in mid-Nov.
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Nevertheless, following the legalization of marijuana in Arizona, Mississippi, New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota, the analyst believes that “more states legalizing, especially so-called red states, will facilitate passage of reform at the federal level.”
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.