As Congress made an important step toward the federal legalization of cannabis, Boardroom looks at which representatives voted for and against the historic legislation.
Public sentiment towards legalizing cannabis has made significant progress in recent years. A November Gallup poll found that 68% of Americans support legalizing Cannabis nationwide, its highest number since it began research on the subject in 1969.
However, despite progressive support, the laws trail far behind. While 37 states have legalized weed to some degree, federal laws continue to lag behind. On April 1, Congress held a historic vote on the matter.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act would remove cannabis from the federal banned substance list, place an 8% tax on cannabis products, allow some cannabis-related convictions to be expunged, and allow the Small Business Administration to make loans and services available to cannabis-related businesses.
The House of Representatives voted to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level in a 220-204 vote that included five abstentions.
Boardroom created a comprehensive interactive map of every congressional district in the country and displayed which members of the House voted for or against the bill. It’s an illustration of who’s on board with reforming cannabis laws and who’s currently opposed and still needs convincing.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $3 billion over the next 10 years. Independent of the potential economic impact, the bill is unlikely to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, but it’s still an important step in the slow fight to legalize cannabis across the U.S.
Regardless of what happens next, it signifies meaningful progress that should not be ignored.
“Every cannabis-related bill that gets a vote— in either chamber— is important,” Bridget Hennessey, Weedmaps‘ vice president and director of public affairs, told Boardoom. “It shows how far we’ve come and it demonstrates momentum for our issue. It’s a public display of the strong support we have, the lawmakers who are with us. And it’s a ‘to-do’ list of the hearts and minds we need to change.”
“Now I certainly like it better when our stuff wins,” Hennessey said, “but even when it doesn’t, the fact that it got to a vote shows that legislators are serious about our industry, and are serious about our industry’s future.”
In the meantime, several states are positioned to legalize cannabis in the year ahead. However, all eyes will be on Washington as the MORE Act goes to the Senate and efforts for federal decriminalization continue.