420 Legalize It: Bill proposed to decriminalize marijuana

The+House+is+debating+a+bill+which+would+decriminalize+marijuana.+The+passage+of+this+legislature+could+alter+standing+sentences+for+those+who%27ve+committed+crimes+involving+marijuana.

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The House is debating a bill which would decriminalize marijuana. The passage of this legislature could alter standing sentences for those who've committed crimes involving marijuana.

Maggie Estes, News Writer

Until recently, keeping off the grass has not been up for discussion, but a new federal bill, also known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment Expungement (MORE) Act, could change that. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and was passed Nov. 20 by the House Judiciary Committee and would remove marijuana from the United States’ list of controlled substances (a list of drugs that have regulations on their use, possession and manufacturing), decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, allow states to decide their own policies on marijuana and require federal courts to expunge prior convictions for marijuana charges. This bill would impact marijuana users and business owners as the bill proposes a five percent tax that would create a trust fund to support people who were strongly impacted by the war on drugs. The revenue would be used to provide job training and substance abuse treatment.

The MORE Act has been proposed after a House Committee meeting in July that discussed marijuana laws and their disproportionate impact on racial minorities and encouraged lawmakers to become more informed on the connection between the two. In North Carolina possession of marijuana can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Marijuana possession as a misdemeanor has a minimum punishment of a $200 fine. For a felony possession, the punishment is 3-8 months in jail with a $1000 fine. Selling marijuana is a class I felony, which generally has a punishment of 3-12 months.

While the MORE Act gained overwhelming support from the House Committee in a 24-10 vote, the bill still has to be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have proposed state bills that would legalize recreational marijuana use and expunge convictions for marijuana from all records, and Wisconsin has proposed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana use. Discussion on the act is ongoing between both parties and a date for the final decision is yet to be announced.