WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSET) — A congressional committee has approved a piece of legislation to end marijuana prohibition in the United States.
According to a press release, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, better known as The MORE Act (HR 3884), would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and impose a minor excise tax on the legal cannabis industry to pay for the expungement of criminal records, among other changes, passed with a bipartisan vote of 24 to 10.
“This is a truly historic moment in our nation’s political history. For the first time, a Congressional committee has approved far-reaching legislation to not just put an end to federal marijuana prohibition, but to address the countless harms our prohibitionist policies have wrought, notable on communities of color and other marginalized groups,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Opposition to our failed war on marijuana has reached a boiling point with over two-thirds of all Americans, including majorities of all political persuasions, now supporting legalization. Congress should respect the will of the people and promptly approve the MORE Act and close this dark chapter of failed public policy.”
In the two days leading up to the vote, over 55,000 thousand messages were sent to lawmakers by Americans in support of The MORE Act through the NORML legislative action center.
“The passage of the MORE Act represents the first time that the Judiciary Committee has ever had a successful vote to end the cruel policy of marijuana criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Not only does the bill reverse the failed prohibition of cannabis, but it provides pathways for opportunity and ownership in the emerging industry for those who have suffered most. In 2018 alone, over 663,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes, a three-year high. Now that Chairman Nadler has moved the MORE Act through committee, it is time for the full House to vote and have every member of Congress show their constituents which side of history they stand on.”
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, HR 3884, will:
- Decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act. This applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions, and enables states to set their own policy.
- Requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allows prior offenders to request expungement, and requires courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
- Authorizes the assessment of a 5% excise tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund, which includes three grant programs: the Community Reinvestment Grant Program, the Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program and the Equitable Licensing Grant Program
- Opens up Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
- Requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.
- Provides non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense: Prohibits the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense and provides that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.