Cannabis got a big win in Congress, but legal weed isn’t around the corner

The US House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill to end the federal prohibition on cannabis. But the historic vote on the landmark legislation — which if put into law would be momentous for the emerging multibillion-dollar cannabis industry and broader social justice movements — ultimately is largely symbolic.

For now, the House is likely to be the last stop on the line for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (MORE Act), which would effectively legalize cannabis by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and creating a shared federal-state control of cannabis programs — although it does not force states to legalize. The bill also would reduce barriers to research, solve current banking and tax woes, expunge some cannabis offenses and further diversify efforts in the industry.

Although public sentiment for cannabis legalization has grown, not all in Congress — notably Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — feel the same.

“I would give it less than a snowball’s chance of passage in the Senate,” said drug policy expert John Hudak, the deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution think tank.

Any bill not signed into law by the time Congress adjourns on January 3 will have to be reintroduced, so that most likely will be the fate for the MORE Act or any other…

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