MORE Act Archives - Green Market Report

StaffStaffDecember 8, 2020
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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.

All of these released prisoners though could impact federal programs. Federal prisoners generally are not eligible for federal benefit programs. By reducing the prison population, CBO estimated that the MORE Act would increase the number of federal beneficiaries, compared with current law, and thus increase direct spending for federal benefit programs by $636 million over the 2021-2030 period.

The legislation, if passed, would also impose an excise tax on cannabis products manufactured or imported into the United States, which would be deposited into the Opportunity Trust Fund established by the act. CBO estimated that the Department of Justice would spend about $3.0 billion from the fund over the same period to provide job training and legal aid, among other services, to people harmed by the “war on drugs.” The Small Business Administration would spend about $2.7 billion over the ten-year period for state and local grants to make loans to cannabis-related small businesses that operate in the cannabis industry and help governments develop cannabis-licensing rules.


Tee CorleyTee CorleyDecember 4, 2020
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5min8390

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor on this first-of-its-kind federal cannabis decriminalization bill. It was a partisan vote despite marijuana being a bipartisan issue. Democrats voted 213 YES and 6 NO, while Republicans voted 5 YES 156 NO.

Just after an election that saw four states legalize marijuana and two states legalize medical marijuana, it’s become clear that most Americans have a progressive view on marijuana. In fact, Pew Research reports that 67% of Americans support marijuana legalization.

As Steven Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project purports, “The prohibition and criminalization of marijuana has led to decades of injustice and devastating consequences, and it’s clear that a strong majority of Americans do not support the status quo.”

And the issue is bipartisan, with two of the legalizing states being Montana and South Dakota. But it’ll take a progressive Senate to pass such a progressive policy. And that’s where the MORE Act may run into trouble.

What is the MORE Act?

The MORE Act is the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act, a historic bill that was approved by the House Judiciary Committee for a floor vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020.

The bill will accomplish three main objectives, plus several smaller provisions.

First, the MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug, a categorization that designates the drug as having no medical purpose. Schedule I drugs also tend to carry with them hefty criminal charges and fines for possession and distribution.

Second, the Act would require federal courts to expunge prior cannabis-related convictions and provide for resentencing at no charge to the individual. This measure aims to restore unnecessary damage done to the individuals’ life by the War on Drugs. Why? Because fines and convictions make it difficult to get a job, for starters.

Third, the Act would require a 5% tax on cannabis sales, the proceeds of which would go to funding grants and resources for communities adversely affected by the War on Drugs.

Key provisions of the MORE Act

The MORE Act does indeed demand more. In addition to the above legislation, the MORE Act would:

  • Lift barriers to licensing and employment in the cannabis industry.
  • Allow VA doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans.
  • End the criminalization of cannabis at the federal level, both going forward and retroactively.
  • Removes the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws.
  • Automatically expunge federal cannabis arrests, charges, and convictions at no cost to the individual.
  • Create the Office of Cannabis Justice to oversee the social equity provisions in the law.
  • Ensure the federal government could not discriminate against people because of cannabis use.
  • Protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis.
  • Open the door to research, better banking and tax laws, and help fuel economic growth as states are looking for financial resources.

Interestingly, the Act would also change the legislative language from marijuana or marihuana to cannabis. Read all the provisions in detail here.

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtDecember 3, 2020
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Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, H.R. 3884. The bill would descedule and decriminalize cannabis. It would also address several social equity and criminal justice issues, allow the government to tax sales at 5%, give cannabis businesses access to Small Business Association loans and allow veterans to receive medical cannabis prescriptions.

The vote is expected to pass the House, but face obstacles in the Senate. Regardless, many industry insiders point out that the vote is historic since it represents the first time a bill repealing cannabis prohibition will be heard before an entire chamber of Congress. Erich Mauff, President, Board Member, and Founder of Jushi Holdings put the vote into context.

 “With the latest Gallup poll for legalization at 68%, big ballot wins for adult use in South Dakota, New Jersey, Montana, and Arizona, and therapeutic cannabis deemed essential throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we are heralding a new era in the cannabis industry,” says Mauff. “Cannabis legalization will result in billions of dollars in infrastructure investment, create thousands of service level jobs, and add billions of dollars in tax revenues. This groundbreaking legislation will generate and encourage unprecedented economic stimulus for an America that wants to move past the unconstitutional injustices of its past.”

Industry Optimistic

Many industry leaders shared Mauff’s sentiment. High Life Farms Vice President Jim LaPorte believes that momentum and popular opinion is on their side.

“With the legalization of medical and/or adult-use cannabis in more than two-thirds of the country, it is apparent that the people of America have spoken,” LaPorte pointed out. “Cannabis is legal in most states, but we still lack federal legalization, resulting in huge impacts on legitimate cannabis businesses.”

LaPorte outlined those concerns, ranging from a lack of access to banking which leaves cannabis companies reliant on cash, to an unfair tax burden stemming from 280E which prohibits companies from taking business write-offs to the serious threat of federal seizure and prosecution.

Keith Cich, President of Sunderstorm, feels that the passage of the MORE Act would inject both capital and confidence into the sector. 

“While the MORE Act will not federally legalize cannabis, it will likely open up banking for the industry and give investment funds the confidence to open up their checkbooks,” he said. 

Cich hoped that a far-ranging consequence could be the opening for American cannabis companies to list on the U.S. securities exchanges. He also pointed out that with so many states passing cannabis legalization, moderate Republicans should give the MORE Act special consideration. 

“It’s about State rights, a key conservative tenet,” he emphasized. 

Besides creating a better business environment, the MORE Act would also begin to address some of the damage done by the War on Drugs. If passed, it would eliminate criminal penalties for manufacturing, distribution, and possession; expunge low-level marijuana convictions; and establish a Cannabis Justice Office to oversee funds and grants to support individuals impacted by the War on Drugs, including an Opportunity Trust Fund and a Community Reinvestment Grant Program.

Ganja Goddess CEO Zachary Pitts strongly-worded his support for the legislation, giving voice to the frustration many have felt with the federal government.

“While it is exciting that the MORE Act has made more progress than previous cannabis legalization attempts, it shouldn’t take this long and be this difficult to pass legislation that the vast majority of US voters want regardless of their political affiliation,” says Pitts. “Cannabis should be legal and acting otherwise is a mixture of cruelty and indifference that perfectly captures why Americans are so frustrated with our politicians.”


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtSeptember 17, 2020
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The House will postpone the much-anticipated vote on HR 3884: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, commonly referred to as the MORE Act. The cannabis legislation became the target of politicization causing sponsors to pull the vote. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a swing at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claiming that she wouldn’t “make time for more COVID relief,” but that she would “make time for marijuana.” The legislation, which has Republican sponsors, suddenly became a toxic subject.

It is now expected to be voted on in November. NORML noted that in the past few weeks, the MORE Act had gained dozens of new co-sponsors and likely had the support to pass the House floor with a bipartisan majority vote.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “This delay by the House does not change the fact that the overwhelming majority of voters support ending the federal prohibition of cannabis, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. This delay does not change the fact that 33 states and the District of Columbia regulate the production and distribution of medical cannabis in a manner that is inconsistent with federal policy, and that one-out-of-four Americans now reside in jurisdictions where adult-use is legal under state law. This delay does not change the fact that voters in several states, including key electoral battleground states for both control of the Presidency and the Senate, will be passing similar state-level marijuana measures on Election Day.”

Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) said, “Unfortunately, this decision means justice delayed for millions of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income individuals disproportionately impacted by our country’s racist marijuana laws. We cannot continue to force these communities to wait for a ‘politically convenient’ moment while they continue to be robbed of employment opportunities, housing, education, other government programs, and even their children or immigration status.

If members of Congress are serious in their commitment to responding to calls for racial justice, then this vote must take place the moment the House is back in session following the elections. Even with just a six-week delay, approximately 77,000 more people could be arrested on marijuana charges, based on current averages – most of which could have been avoided.”

The MORE Act would:

  • Decriminalize marijuana federally by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act
  • Facilitate federal expungements for minor charges and incentivize state and local governments to do the same
  • Create pathways for ownership opportunities for local and minority entrepreneurs
  • Allow veterans to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors
  • Remove the threat of deportation for immigrants

StaffStaffNovember 20, 2019
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In a 24-10 vote, the House Judiciary Committee approved the MORE Act that would effectively end marijuana prohibition on Wednesday. This is the first time that a congressional committee has approved a bill to make cannabis legal.

“Today’s vote marks a turning point for federal cannabis policy, and is truly a sign that prohibition’s days are numbered,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “Thanks to the diligent efforts of advocates and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, we’ve seen more progress in this Congress than ever before. Supermajority public support for legalization, increasing recognition of the devastating impacts of prohibition on marginalized communities and people of color, and the undeniable success of state cannabis programs throughout the country are all helping to build momentum for comprehensive change in the foreseeable future.”

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act was sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and would federally decriminalize and deschedule cannabis. In addition to that, the MORE Act contains strong social equity provisions with an emphasis on restorative justice for communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

“This committee vote is a historic step forward for cannabis policy reform at the federal level,” said Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine. “The MORE Act would ensure cannabis consumers and businesses are treated fairly under the law. It would also bolster state and industry efforts to promote diversity within the cannabis business community, while helping communities and individuals adversely impacted by the war on drugs. A solid majority of Americans support ending cannabis prohibition, and we’re finally seeing that reflected in a vote on Capitol Hill.”

“These votes demonstrate the broad bipartisan support that exists in Congress for allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies,” Levine said. “There appears to be a consensus among both parties that the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws is untenable and needs to be resolved. We encourage our allies in the Democratic and Republican parties come together to find a bipartisan path forward and pass a law this Congress.”

Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno said, “With today’s mark-up of the MORE Act, the United States is coming one step closer to ending the devastating harms of marijuana prohibition, which have fallen so heavily on Black and Brown people. This legislation won’t make up for the full scale of harm that prohibition has caused to its victims. It’s not going to return anyone their lost dreams, time lost at the mercy of the criminal justice system; or the years spent away from their families. But this legislation is the closest we’ve come yet to not only ending those harms at the federal level, but also beginning to repair them. Now it’s up to Congress to do the right thing and swiftly pass the bill to ensure justice is not delayed a moment longer.”

Max Simon, CEO of Green Flower Media said, “It’s exciting that government is finally aligning itself with what the people want — to decriminalize cannabis. No sensible person is still able to back up the ludicrous claim that cannabis should remain a Schedule 1 drug, and this vote would finally embrace this as truth.”

 

 


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