House Postpones Major Vote

House Democrats’ plan to vote on legislation decriminalizing marijuana before the November election went up in smoke Thursday, as leadership decided to postpone consideration of the measure amid concerns about the political optics.

Some of the more moderate Democrats in the caucus, including ones considered vulnerable for re-election in November, had expressed reservation about voting on the marijuana bill this month when Congress still had not passed another coronavirus relief package.

“Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to stave off a damaging government shutdown and continuing to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement. “Later this autumn, the House will pass the MORE Act with strong support as yet another crucial step toward making our justice system fair for all Americans.”

The MORE Act is the shorthand name for the bill, titled the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. The measure, which the Judiciary Committee reported out last November on a 24-10 vote, would remove cannabis from any federal references to controlled substances and provide a process for expunging marijuana-related convictions. Advocates for the legislation say it would help correct years of policy that resulted in mass criminalization and incarceration that disproportionately affected minority populations.

Continue reading at Roll Call.