Jayapal just made one of the dankest votes in Congressional history.
Jayapal is down for weed legalization, with a hit of social justice too. C-SPAN

Seattle’s congresswoman just did something radical—she voted for nationwide weed decriminalization and for sending millions of dollars to help make reparations to the minority communities most harmed by the war on drugs.

Sponsored
Judge Doug North, a Proponent of Diverting Non-Violent First-Time Offenders into Treatment Programs, is Endorsed by The Stranger
Click here to see what people are saying about Judge North.

Paid for by Committee to Reelect Judge North, P.O. Box 27113, Seattle, WA 98165

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal cast a historic vote on Wednesday when she joined a majority of her Democratic colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee in approving a sweeping cannabis reform bill, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The bill was approved in a 24-10 vote and we’re now one step closer to common sense pot reform.

The MORE act would decriminalize cannabis nationwide, allow pot companies to use traditional banking services, let states decide whether or how they want to legalize pot, and also create a 5 percent nationwide pot sales tax that goes into a social equity fund. That fund would be spent on job training, business loans, and other measures that aim to boost minority ownership in the legal pot industry.

Jayapal called the MORE Act a “historic” law before voting to support it on Wednesday. You can hear Jayapal’s comments below.

“This bill is really getting us to a whole new level,” Jayapal said. “The reality here is that we do have a crisis that we are digging out of for many of our individuals in our communities. And that is what the MORE Act is about. It is our work to decriminalize cannabis and empower states to make their own policies. And it’s about taking the important step forward to undo some of the devastating impact of the war on drugs, particularly for young people of color.”

Unfortunately, this bill isn’t likely to become law anytime soon. The bill probably won’t get a full floor vote before the end of the year. And if the House were to pass the measure the Republican-controlled Senate won’t likely follow suit. Conservatives are increasingly supportive of federal pot reform, but Republicans are much more interested in two separate measures called the STATES Act and the SAFE Banking Act.

The STATES Act wouldn’t decriminalize pot federally but would protect states’ rights to legalize pot and give pot companies access to banking. The SAFE Banking Act is even more narrow and basically only gives banks the ability to get involved in the legal weed industry. Both of these laws would send millions or even billions of dollars to the legal weed industry.

Both the SAFE Banking Act and the STATES Act have much better chances of becoming law than the MORE Act. The SAFE Banking Act passed the House of Representatives in September with support from 91 Republicans. The STATES Act hasn’t gotten that far but it has 206 cosponsors in Congress.

It’s not hard to see why these two other acts are getting so much more traction. It’s always been popular to throw marginalized communities under the bus, and that’s exactly what these two bills do.

Support The Stranger

The SAFE and STATES acts reinforce the white ownership of the legal industry—by giving a massive windfall of private capital and banking rights to the existing white ownership of the industry—while also doing little to help the people still being criminalized for pot today. Neither the SAFE Banking Act nor the STATES Act decriminalizes pot nationwide; they simply allow existing laws to stand. So under these two federal laws weed will still be legal in Washington, but the war on drugs will still be raging in places like Georgia or Texas, where non-white people are the most harmed by criminalization.

The MORE Act wouldn’t force Texas to legalize weed, but it would at least make it so federal law in Texas doesn’t criminalize pot. And it would also use the powerful leverage of a newly emboldened legal industry (emboldened by access to banking and new capital) to raise funds to help those minority communities who are most harmed by the war on drugs.

It might not be the most popular route, but at least Seattle’s congresswoman is going about federal legalization the right way.

Sponsored
Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival returns October 16 through November 8
The all-digital festival features one-of-a-kind performances and panels streamed straight to you.