Historic Cannabis Legalization Vote Scheduled This Week

A key committee will vote this week on the MORE Act, which removes marijuana from the list of substances on the Controlled Substances Act to effectively end cannabis prohibition across the country.

A historic congressional vote on federal cannabis legalization and decriminalization will take place Wednesday. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced today the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) is scheduled for Congressional markup and vote.

“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 stated 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.”

The MORE Act, H.R. 3884, was introduced by Nadler in July, followed by a companion bill introduced in the Senate by Kamala Harris (D-CA). No vote has been scheduled in the Senate.

What is the MORE Act?

Forbes reporter Tom Angell first broke the story of the coming House Judiciary vote over the weekend. Nadler, along with other Democrats Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), will hold a press conference on Tuesday at 11 a.m. to highlight the legislation. The event is available by live stream, here.

Lee, who serves as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Cannabis Caucus, stated in a press release that she was “pleased to see Chairman Nadler and the Judiciary Committee take this historic step in marking up the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act.”

“I’m pleased that this critical bill includes key tenets from my own legislation to right the wrongs of the failed and racist War on Drugs by expunging criminal convictions, reinvesting in communities of color through restorative justice, and promoting equitable participation in the legal marijuana industry. I applaud Chairman Nadler for his leadership and look forward to seeing this bill move out of committee.”

The MORE Act has 55 cosponsors.

Highlights of the MORE Act:

The MORE Act:

  • Decriminalizes cannabis at the federal level, applying to prior and pending convictions, and allows states to set individual policy.
  • Expunges prior cannabis convictions, offers resentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
  • Authorizes the use of a 5 percent sales tax on cannabis and cannabis products to create the Opportunity Trust Fund.
  • Prohibits discrimination based on possession, past conviction or use of cannabis when applying for federal public benefits such as housing.

Find out more on the MORE Act, here.

Moving Forward on Federal Cannabis Reform

In September, Congress passed the SAFE Banking Act, a standalone cannabis reform bill focused on protecting financial institutions providing services to cannabis-related businesses. H.R. 1595, received criticism from cannabis reform advocates due to the bill’s lack of social justice reform.

Nadler and other congress members pledged to bring about a more comprehensive bill. Another bi-partisan cannabis reform bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) is also available. The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act is a more moderate bill and some believe it could have a better chance passing through GOP-controlled Senate.

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UPDATE 11/20: The House Judiciary Committee passed the MORE Act in a 24-10 vote on Nov. 20. Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has said he believes it will be put to a full floor vote before the end of the year.