MORE Act to Federally Legalize Marijuana Headed for House Vote
The House Judiciary Committee voted this week on a bill that would deschedule cannabis, expunge marijuana convictions, and create reinvestment programs in communities most impacted by the war on drugs.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) ACT was introduced by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). The Judiciary Committee voted 24-10 to approve the bill and send it to the full House floor for a vote. So far, the bill has 55 co-sponsors.
“This will remove a stain on people’s record but really a stain on the United States of America,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).
Some key elements of the MORE Act include:
- Remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances
- Require federal courts to expunge past marijuana convictions and criminal records
- Allow states to set their own marijuana policy
- A 5 percent federal tax on marijuana would fund programs that provide job training, legal assistance, treatment for substance abuse, and provide loans for cannabis businesses owned by people who are socially or economically disadvantaged
- Create the Cannabis Justice Office within the Department of Justice
- Prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances because of marijuana use
- Prohibit denying citizenship to immigrants based on a marijuana conviction
“Our marijuana laws disproportionately harm individuals and communities of color, leading to convictions that damage job prospects, access to housing, and the ability to vote,” Nadler said in a press release. “Recognizing this, many states have legalized marijuana. It’s now time for us to remove the criminal prohibitions against marijuana at the federal level. That’s why I introduced the MORE Act, legislation which would assist communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of these laws.”
Additionally, removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act would allow veterans access to medical marijuana through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
While the bill is likely to pass in the House, its future is less certain in the Senate.
“The Senate will take its own time, but then the Senate always does,” said Nadler. “The energy and the political pressure from the various states is growing rapidly. The Senate is subject to that, too. We’ll accomplish this.”