The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that brings marijuana one step closer to being legalized on a federal level. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, or MORE for short, aims to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances, where it is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin, LSD, and other powerful drugs. 

In addition, the bill will allow federal courts to expunge prior convictions for marijuana offenders. It will also allocate a 5% tax on recreational cannabis sales in order to provide job training and treatment for minority communities, which had been affected the most by the nation’s war on drugs, allowing them to enter the marijuana market more easily.

This is the first time that a congressional committee has supported marijuana decriminalization on a federal level. 

The Bill passed 24–10 after two hours of debate. It now has to pass through seven other House committees and the Senate. Experts say the future of the bill is “uncertain” as it passes both through the full house and the Republican-controlled Senate. Even if by some miracle it passes through Congress, it must still be signed by the president to become law. 

There’s a long road ahead, that’s for sure, but at least the first step has been taken.