More States, Congress Consider Marijuana Legalization – Again

The moves underscore the momentum that legalization efforts maintains.

State lawmakers this week in both Indiana and Pennsylvania held committee hearings and took testimony on cannabis legalization. To underscore the political momentum of marijuana reform even further, GOP Congresswoman Nancy Mace re-introduced her federal cannabis legalization bill as well at the end of October.

Federal Consideration

Mace’s bill, the States Reform Act, was first introduced in 2021. Its reintroduction comes a few weeks after House Democrats also reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act in September, which would legalize cannabis at the federal level and which has passed the House twice before.

The MORE Act’s prior passage is unlikely to be repeated while the House is controlled by Speaker Mike Johnson, however, given Johnson’s past opposition to cannabis reform of all kinds.

But the reintroduction of both bills – despite their lack of political chances – as well as the hearings in two states underscores the ongoing momentum that marijuana still carries.

State Expansion?

In Indiana – one of just a few states left that has not legalized medical cannabis, other than hemp-derived goods – a committee looking at economic development weighed whether legalization would be a boon or a burden.

No formal action was taken by the committee, and it’s unclear whether lawmakers will entertain new legalization bills in 2024.

In nearby Pennsylvania, which already has a thriving medical marijuana industry, the question is more of “when and how” lawmakers will legalize recreational, not “if.”

That was a prime topic at the hearing this week as lawmakers debated public safety issues, how to wrap in social equity, and state Rep. Dan Frankel speculated that a legalization bill could get a vote on the state House floor next year, WGAL 8 reported.

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