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.”
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.”