The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next week on whether to stop listing cannabis as a controlled substance.
Oregon’s $1 billion recreational marijuana market faces all kinds of problems because the drug remains illegal under federal law. For example, businesses must deal mostly in cash because banks and credit card companies often don’t want risk to falling afoul of the federal government.
Democratic Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said the House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act last session, but the bill died in the Senate.
“This time, we have Senate leadership who support legalization efforts,” Blumenauer said.
Oregon’s senior U.S. senator, Ron Wyden, called the vote a solid step on the road to overhauling outdated and unjust federal cannabis policy.
“I’m all in to advance that work in the Senate with the cannabis legalization bill. I’m proud to lead along with Sens. (Chuck) Schumer (of New York) and (Cory) Booker (of New Jersey),” Wyden said.
The Drug Policy Alliance, a major advocacy group that backs alternatives to drug criminalization, welcomed the vote.
“For over half a century, marijuana prohibition has stood as the cornerstone of the cruel and inhumane drug war that has robbed millions of people of their freedom and their livelihoods,” Director Maritza Perez said in a statement. “The weight of which has disproportionately fallen on the backs of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income communities — who remain its number one target.”
Most states in the country allow cannabis sales in some form. Marijuana industry stocks increased notably on news of the pending House vote.