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On April 1, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 220-204 in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.
Although the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act is not expected to become law due to lack of support in the Senate, the House vote is significant because it is the second time either chamber of Congress has acted to remove federal prohibitions against marijuana use.
The House previously passed a similar version of the bill on Dec. 4, 2020. While that bill was never brought up in the Senate, the new MORE Act is generally considered more likely to at least reach a vote in that chamber.
The MORE Act
The MORE Act would eliminate all federal criminal penalties related to marijuana by removing it from the federal Controlled Substances Act. It would also expunge virtually all federal marijuana convictions back to 1971, create grant programs, and impose a 5% sales tax on all marijuana products.
An amendment included in the new bill would require the federal government to conduct a study on how state recreational marijuana laws affect various aspects of the workplace, such as workers’ compensation claims and sick days used.
The MORE Act also includes protections against being denied any federal benefit based on marijuana use or convictions. Otherwise, it does not address marijuana in the context of private employment. Therefore, employers should watch for more information and become familiar with and follow all applicable state and local laws relating to marijuana and employment.