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.