[4/6/22] – The U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana at the Federal Level, Bill Heads to the U.S. Senate

On Friday, April 1st, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, as well as eliminate the criminal penalties for people who distribute or possess it.  According to The Hill, the legislation, which is called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would: remove cannabis from the list of banned federal substances, expunge certain past offenses associated with cannabis, impose a 5 percent federal tax on cannabis that eventually increases to 8 percent, and fund programs aimed at helping communities affected by the war on drugs. The House of Representatives also added two amendments to the legislation. These amendments authorize $10 million for two studies; a federal study on the impact of marijuana legalization in the workplace and another for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to study technologies for law enforcement officials to use in determining whether a driver is impaired by marijuana.

Many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana in recent years, but marijuana is still classified by the federal government, under the Controlled Substances Act, as a “schedule 1” drug. This means that it is considered highly addictive, has no medicinal value, and is on par with heroin and LSD. But, despite the changes in some state laws and the increasing public support for marijuana, efforts to pass decriminalization legislation at the federal level have been unsuccessful. In fact, in December of 2020, the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill, but it was stalled after having never been brought by the Senate floor by then-majority leader Mitch McConnell. Although it is unclear if it will receive the necessary votes in the U.S. Senate, it is clear that there is broad support for the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis at the federal level.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.



  • Writing: Explain why it has been difficult to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
  • Debate: According to research by Gallup, Americans are more likely now than at any point in the past five decades to support the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. Do you believe that the shift in public opinion will help the federal cannabis law reform efforts?
  • Poll: Marijuana should be decriminalized at the federal level. (Agree or Disagree).
  • Short Answer: Discuss the provisions of the legislation.   

Cover Image: iStock/wildpixel

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