MORE Act Approved by House Vote

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act from House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) was passed by the House vote today.

Raj Grover, CEO, High Tide (NASDAQ: HITI) said, “We congratulate the US House on passing the MORE Act as the vote is in line with broader public opinion Meanwhile, we know that given the current makeup of Congress, getting a comprehensive legalization bill through the Senate remains far from assured. For us, the best news is that our business operates in the US with large, growing revenue numbers regardless of what happens in Congress, due to our successful M&A strategy and our network of CBD and consumption accessories e-commerce platforms.”

Nadler tweeted this morning

HAPPENING TODAY: The House is considering my bill, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This bill will reverse decades of failed federal policies based on the criminalization of marijuana.

It also take steps to address the heavy toll these policies have taken across the country, particularly among communities of color. For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health.

The bill sets a new path forward and would begin to correct some of the injustices of the last 50 years. The bill decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level, removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. This change applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions.

While I am proud to be the sponsor of this legislation, there are many people who are responsible for getting us to this point today, and I want to thank them for their efforts, and I encourage my colleagues to support this critical legislation.

While many cannabis industry insiders are thrilled to hopefully see its passage, this will be the second time that a bill to end federal cannabis prohibition has been considered in a full chamber of Congress. Unfortunately, the same fate for the first MORE Act in 2020 is expected to be repeated. The legislation has to move to the Senate for approval and that is unlikely.

MORE Act Could Bring $8.1 Billion

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that it expects the proposed federal taxes included in the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to bring in $8.1 billion in revenue from 2022 to 2031.

“H.R. 3617 would federally decriminalize cannabis (marijuana), expunge the records of people convicted of federal cannabis offenses, and require resentencing of some federal prisoners,” the report says. “As a result, CBO estimates, thousands of current inmates would be released earlier than under current law. In the future, decriminalization also would reduce the number of people in federal prisons and the amount of time they serve.

H.R. 3617 would create a new Opportunity Trust Fund and would appropriate to the fund amounts equivalent to the net revenues received from the occupational tax and from excise taxes on cannabis products. CBO estimates that about $7.8 billion would be appropriated to the fund over the 2022-2031 period, of which the Department of Justice would spend about $3.4 billion to provide job training and legal aid, among other services, to people harmed by what was termed the war on drugs. CBO also estimates that the Small Business Administration would provide about $1.4 billion in grants to states and localities to make business loans to related small businesses and to develop cannabis-licensing rules.

Finally, H.R. 3617 would reduce the Bureau of Prisons’ costs by reducing both the number of people in federal facilities and the amount of time they serve. CBO estimates that the provision would result in net savings of about $800 million over the 2022-2031 period, assuming appropriation actions consistent with the anticipated changes in prison populations. Those savings are not reflected in the table because they are subject to future appropriation action.”

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said, “Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. People do not smoke marijuana & beat up their wives or get angry and beat up others or drive their cars in wildly dangerously conditions, and kill others. Congress has been out of step on this issue.”

“It is clear prohibition is over,” Rep. Perlmutter said. “Today we have an opportunity to chart a new path forward on federal cannabis policy that actually makes sense. The MORE Act is about justice, safety, equity and

Flora Growth CEO Luis Merchan said, “We applaud the US House of Representatives for passing the MORE Act, which would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and also contains robust social equity provisions as well. With the second historic passage of this bill, it’s time for the US Senate to seriously look at also passing meaningful federal reform. There are thousands of Americans in jail for nonviolent cannabis offenses, and the industry also doesn’t have access to the banking services or to all of the tax write-offs that it deserves. This bill would also allow for crucial research on the medical applications of cannabis to move forward, so doctors and patients can have access to the medical data they need to consider alternatives. We’re excited about any progress at the federal level, but also strongly urge the full Congress to pass comprehensive legalization as urgently as they can.”

Medical Marijuana, Inc. CEO Blake Schroeder added, “Though decriminalizing marijuana would put the U.S. in a much better position to provide safe and free access to cannabis products, it is not the same as legalizing it. We can’t stop fighting for Federal legalization. Even in the CBD space, we’ve been battling the government here (as well as in other countries) to acknowledge the potential wellness and economic benefits of making it legal and allowing every citizen to have free access to the plant. What we need more than ever is for the government to step in just as aggressively as it did during the infancy of the “War on Drugs” campaign but instead, educate people on the anecdotal and scientific evidence on how CBD and cannabis can improve their lives. Even though the House passed this bill to decriminalize cannabis, it is much less likely that it will make it through the Senate, a repeating pattern that we’ve seen a multitude of times over the past decade. Industry leaders need to band together to figure out how we are going to change the minds and hearts of these Senators if we want any legislation to pass.”

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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