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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Friday said arguments against legalizing marijuana are increasingly unpopular, urging members of his party to switch their positions.
Gaetz was one of five Republicans to vote for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which the House passed on Friday.
The bill would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and would expunge certain marijuana convictions. It's the first time either chamber of Congress has taken such a step.
The MORE Act, a bill that would deschedule marijuana and thereby legalize it federally – with massive business implications – is scheduled to be considered by the full U.S. House of Representatives the week of Sept. 21, according to an email sent by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, discussed the plans in a Monday email providing colleagues an update on the House floor schedule for September. On Friday, House leaders signaled a September vote but details were uncertain.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana descended on the U.S. Capitol in droves Wednesday, saying that their efforts are moving toward success.
"Public opinion is changing on this issue," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the chief sponsor of the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which authorizes research into the medical benefits of marijuana. "Congress is behind. We need to catch up."
Two pro-marijuana groups, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Americans for Safe Access, held press conferences and met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.