A planned House vote on a bill to decriminalize the possession of marijuana was canceled on Thursday under pressure from law enforcement lobbyists and other pro-prohibition special interests.
The expected floor vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would have been the biggest accomplishment yet for cannabis reformers, but the effort has been postponed until after Election Day, Politico reports. Democrats have gotten weak-kneed about a bill that they once saw as a major criminal justice reform.
Indeed, it would have been. The MORE Act, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–N.Y.), would remove cannabis from the schedules of the Controlled Substances Act and make that change retroactive, effectively expunging any federal marijuana offenses and convictions. The bill also orders federal courts to lift all sentences for people currently locked up due to a marijuana conviction.
As Reason‘s Jacob Sullum explained when the bill was introduced last year, the MORE Act was in many ways superior to other marijuana legislation, because it “completely deschedules marijuana rather than moving it to a lower schedule or making exceptions to the ban for state-legal conduct, and it seeks to lift the burdens that prohibition has imposed on people caught growing, distributing, or possessing cannabis, a vital project that too often has been treated as an afterthought.”
This year, the bill had collected more than 100 co-sponsorships in the House—it even had support from three Republicans—and appeared on track to pass the lower chamber. Even though the bill was expected to die in the Senate, that House vote would have been historic.
Unfortunately, cop lobbyists seem to have convinced House Democratic leaders that it would also be a liability. A coalition of law enforcement special interests and other proponents of the drug war sent a letter to congressional leaders last week warning about the potential dangers associated with legalizing and “commercializing” marijuana.
That, combined with vague fears about how Republicans might weaponize the legalization vote for negative ads in swing districts, was apparently enough to convince Democrats to scuttle the vote.
The Michigan secretary of state misprinted the Trump line on ballots intended to be mailed to troops serving overseas, the Detroit News reported.
Jocelyn Benson, who has endorsed President Trump’s rival, Joe Biden, and spoke at the recent Democratic National Convention (DNC), made the apparent error. The ballot listed Jeremy Cohen as Trump’s running mate. Cohen is running for vice president on the libertarian ticket with Jo Jorgensen.
The name of the incumbent vice president, Mike Pence, was omitted altogether. Jorgensen’s line lacked a running mate, thus creating three errors on the ballot.
Over 400 incorrect ballots were downloaded from the secretary’s website by local clerks to be sent to voters. It is not clear how many were actually mailed.
The ballots were “meant to be mailed or emailed to Michigan residents living abroad under the Military and Overseas Empowerment (MOVE) Act,” the paper reported.
“Replacement” ballots will be issued to those who may have been mailed incorrect ones, according to the secretary of state’s office.
“If a voter does happen to return the incorrect ballot instead of the correct ballot, it will still count,” Benson spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer said.
“The clerk will be instructed to duplicate a vote for Trump onto a ballot for Trump/Pence.”
The secretary of state has endorsed Biden for president.
During the DNC, Benson pushed voting by mail.