Senate Republicans Balk At Democratic House Move To Legalize Marijuana

Republicans can’t believe that House Democrats are moving forward with plans to legalize marijuana while America continues to suffer from the effects of the coronavirus. But whose fault is that?

The U.S. House will vote on a measure today (Dec. 2) to legalize marijuana like alcohol, yet opposing forces think it should be postponed until Congress can pass a COVID relief bill. As it stands, no new round of coronavirus funding has been approved, and individuals and businesses alike are tanking.

The House wants to pass legislation known as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The bill is designed to eliminate marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing for a nationwide taxed and regulated pot market to unfold. It also sets aside a percentage of the tax revenue to help rebuild communities ravaged the most by the war on drugs.

Sounds great, right?

Not to a slew of Republicans. Over the past few days, many have taken to social media to protest moving forward with the MORE Act out of respect for those still trying to survive the coronavirus. “Democrats are bringing the House back into session to…Legalize marijuana?” reads a Tweet from the official House Republicans Twitter page. “THOSE are the Democrats’ priorities right now — not COVID and small business relief that the American people actually need.”

Democrats aren’t under any illusion that prioritizing marijuana reform over COVID relief efforts is going to win them any popularity contests. In fact, the MORE Act was initially scheduled to be voted on in September, yet it was pushed back to keep from upsetting the voters. But, the truth is, Democrats actually put coronavirus funding ahead of anything else. The House passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill in October — one that provided $400 per week in jobless benefits and additional funding for the business sector — but the Republicans did not want a bill that went that far.

Furthermore, on Tuesday, House and Senate lawmakers reached a $908 billion compromise on a COVID relief bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot it down. Instead, he wants one that is closer to $500 billion — something he believes will be signed into law by President Trump. So, it’s not that the Democrats aren’t trying to move on a measure to help people ravaged by the corona debacle. It’s more or less a showdown between the two parties that has prevented action.

A Right-Leaning Supreme Court Won't Impede Cannabis Reform, Legal Experts Say
Photo by Esther Kelleter/Getty Images

But Republicans want their constituents to think that all the Democrats care about is legal weed. Only that narrative is a tad askew from the truth. Again, House Democrats have been pushing for trillions in funding since the last round ended in July. Republicans just don’t want to spend the money.

RELATED: GOP Attacks Marijuana Decriminalization Bill, Question Democrat Priorities Amid Pandemic

Even if the House passes the MORE Act this week, which is expected to happen, it will still require Senate approval before it can even come close to becoming law. But that is not going to happen — not even close. Senator McConnell, the same gatekeeper to the upper chamber raising a stink over $400 billion, has said time and again that he doesn’t have any interest in supporting a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana. So in a way, the House’s vote on the MORE Act is more symbolic than a calculated move to end pot prohibition.

RELATED: A Deeper Dive Ahead Of A Key Day In Congress For Cannabis

On the flip side, legalizing marijuana nationwide is a move that market analysts claim would create one million jobs nationwide and contribute billions to the economy. The federal government used a similar move decades ago to help dig the country out of the pits of the Great Depression. It ended alcohol prohibition.

Perhaps it’s time for history to repeat itself.

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