By a vote of 228 to 164, the House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R.3884) de-scheduling marijuana. It’s the first piece to pass in a comprehensive marijuana reform legislation drafted and introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and Senator Kamala Harris.
The MORE Act, which is the first bill of its kind to pass either chamber of Congress, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and focus on “reparative justice and equity in legalization.” The Act is “focused on racial justice and giving back to those most harmed by prohibition,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
“The criminalization of marijuana is a cornerstone of the racist war on drugs,” Maritza Perez, director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, said. “Even after a decade of reform victories, one person was arrested nearly every minute last year for simply possessing marijuana. Today the House took the most powerful step forward to address that shameful legacy. But the MORE Act as passed is imperfect, and we will continue to demand more until our communities have the world they deserve.”
The MORE Act taxes marijuana products at 5 percent, which will create a trust fund in order to:
- Provide grants to communities negatively impacted by the drug war for the development of record expungement processes, employment programs, reentry guidance, youth resources, and more
- Create more access to substance use treatment
- Encourage socially and economically disadvantaged people to enter the cannabis industry
- Create equitable licensing programs in states and local governments that benefit communities most impacted by prohibition
The Act would ensure equity to those most harmed by prohibition by:
- Preventing the government from denying an individual federal benefits, student financial aid, or security clearances needed to obtain government jobs because of marijuana use
- Providing an opportunity for those convicted under marijuana laws to petition for re-sentencing and expungement
- Protecting immigrants that are at risk of deportation or citizenship denial based on a simple marijuana infraction
According to a public opinion poll, 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization. In 35 states and the District of Columbia there are laws in place that “allow legal access to medical marijuana and 15 states plus the District of Columbia allow legal access to marijuana for adult use,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
A companion bill, S.2227, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Kamala Harris and co-sponsored, by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“Getting to this point definitely gives us hope, but the fight is far from over. We will continue to build support for an even stronger, and more inclusive bill in the next session,” Queen Adesuyi, policy manager for the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, said. “We are grateful that members of Congress have rightly come to the realization that the drug war has exacerbated the racial injustices in this country and ending marijuana prohibition is a concrete tangible action they can take to benefit our communities now.”