MORE Act Vote Needs More Days

On Monday the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement or MORE Act was supposed to go to a vote in the House, but that has now been extended to Wednesday.  It seems several politicians are trying to tweak the language with amendments. However, even if it gets passed by the House on Wednesday, it would still need to get approved in the Senate which has its own goals.

Senator Chuck Schumer recently said the plan is to file that bill—the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA)—in April. Marijuana Moment also reported that “the Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan bill meant to promote research into marijuana, in part by streamlining the application process for researchers who want to study the plant and encouraging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop cannabis-derived medicines.”

Marijuana Moment described the amendments as such:

Driving Issues

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) filed an amendment that would require the transportation secretary and attorney general to develop and publish “best practices for the recognition and testing of drivers impaired by marijuana” before any provision of the legalization bill could take effect. That means a study would have to take place on the notoriously difficult issue of measuring for impairment under the influence of cannabis before legalization could happen.

A proposed revision from Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who did vote in favor of the MORE Act last round, seeks to provide $10 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct research on “technologies and methods that law enforcement may use to determine whether a driver is impaired by marijuana.”

Rep. Pete Pete Stauber (R-MN) filed an amendment to make it so immigrants could be deported for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Employer Issues

Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), one of just six Democrats to vote against the MORE Act last session, introduced three proposed changes.

  • The first would require the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct a study on the “impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis by states on the workplace” and develop “best practices for use by employers that are transitioning their policies related to the use of recreational cannabis, prioritizing the development of best practices for employers engaged in federal infrastructure projects, transportation, public safety and national security.”
  • The second would mandate that the secretary of education conduct a study on “the impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis by states on schools and school-aged children” and develop “best practices for use by educators and administrators to protect school-aged children from any negative impacts of such legalization.”
  • The third would maintain enhanced federal penalties for distributing more than five grams of marijuana to a person under the age of 21 and for distributing more than five grams of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, college, playground or public housing authority, or within 100 feet of a youth center, public swimming pool or arcade.

Edibles Restrictions

Rep. Tiffany Thomas (R-WI) introduced two amendments. Her first would create a civil penalty for manufacturing or distributing cannabis products with any “constituent, ingredient or artificial or natural flavor additive (other than marijuana), including a fruit, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, candy, confectionaries, menthol or coffee.” That would essentially cut out just about every edible in the market that currently exists.

Thomas’s second amendment would require that marijuana products be sold in packaging that is “designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under 5 years of age to open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount of the substance contained therein within a reasonable time and not difficult for normal adults to use properly.” It would also mandate that cannabis products be labeled with a warning that states: “The Surgeon General has determined pregnant women should not use marijuana, which affects the developing fetus, and is associated with adverse outcomes for newborns including lower birth weight, poor cognitive function, hyperactivity and other long-term consequences.” Most packaging already requires child-resistant elements and warning language so this amendment isn’t too unusual.

Here We Go Again

The MORE Act has been in this spot before. It was originally sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and passed the House in 2020. However, it was stalled in the Senate that never brought the legislation to a vote. It advanced again this session in September. Then the House Leadership said it would schedule a vote this week. The leaders of the Judiciary Committee then released a nearly 500-page report on what the legislation would accomplish and outlining arguments for and against the reform.

The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate in a new report that H.R. 3884, otherwise known as the MORE Act would increase revenues, on net, by about $13.7 billion over the 2021-2030 period by creating business income, compliance, and occupational taxes; those increases would be partially offset by allowing certain deductions for business expenses associated with trafficking controlled substances.

The MORE Act would also federally decriminalize cannabis (marijuana), expunge the records of people convicted of federal cannabis offenses, and require resentencing of some federal prisoners. 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 federal inmates serve. In total, the report said that over the 2021-2030 period, CBO estimates that H.R. 3884 would reduce time served by 73,000 person-years, among existing and future inmates. CBO’s analysis accounts for time served by offenders convicted of cannabis-only crimes and by those convicted of another crime in addition to a cannabis offense.

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