Cannabis Legalization Passes Major Hurdle


With millions of Americans fixated on impeachment hearings, many people missed the news regarding a landmark piece of legislation. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 or MORE Act. The bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

After more than two hours of debate, the democratically controlled House Judiciary Committee approved the MORE Act. The bill seeks to accomplish far more than to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, CNBC reports. With the bill’s passing, lawmakers hope to incentivize states to clear criminal records of people with low-level marijuana offenses.

The American “war on drugs” is most closely associated with marijuana. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that cannabis arrests account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States. What’s more, draconian drug sentencing laws have disproportionately affected minority communities.

The MORE Act would allow states to enact marijuana policies and create a 5% tax on cannabis products, according to the article. The funds would be utilized to provide employment training and legal assistance to Americans most affected by marijuana-related arrests.

“The criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake,” Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said during the markup of the bill. “The racial disparity in marijuana enforcement laws only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”

There is a companion bill in the U.S. Senate sponsored by presidential hopeful and junior United States Senator from California, Kamala Harris. However, there is not much optimism that the far-reaching legislation will gain the approval needed in the republican-controlled Senate.

The fate of the MORE Act will likely depend on several concessions being made to garner the necessary support among senators.

Cannabis Use Disorder Must Be Considered

Cannabis use is legal for recreational use in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and Washington, D.C. The prohibition could soon come to an end; the Pew Research Center reports that a majority of Americans are in support of legalization.

While prohibition and the war on drugs are deemed mainly a failure, doing far more harm than good, new policies must consider the fact that cannabis is not benign. Most Americans would probably agree, accurately, that alcohol and tobacco do far more damage than marijuana. Still, cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a diagnosable condition that affects millions of Americans.

The end of prohibition must coincide with campaigns to educate young Americans about the dangers of marijuana use. What’s more, some of the funds generated from a federal cannabis tax should be used to provide evidence-based treatment for people with limited resources. Many people with CUD require professional help to assist in bringing about lasting addiction recovery.

Heavy, prolonged cannabis use can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Signs of marijuana withdrawal, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, include:

  • Anxiety and Restlessness
  • Depression and Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Physical Symptoms (e.g., tremors)

The above symptoms often lead to relapse before a program of recovery can be adopted. Professional assistance significantly improves one’s ability to achieve long-term addiction recovery from CUD.

Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

If you are having difficulty abstaining from cannabis use and are experiencing problems at work, school, or at home, then you may meet the criteria for a CUD. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to learn more about our full continuum of care, including acute medical detoxification, rehabilitation, partial hospitalization, residential, outpatient, and sober living programs.