MJ Biz reports..
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced the sweeping social justice-focused marijuana legalization bill known as the MORE Act in a first step toward passage in the full House.
But the Senate remains the high hurdle.
The Judiciary Committee approved the legislation in a 26-15 vote, with 24 Democrats joined by two Republicans voting yes and 15 Republicans voting no.
Chairman Nadler Statement
Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 3617, the MORE Act of 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 3617, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021:
“I am proud to have introduced H.R. 3617, the ‘Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act,’ or the ‘MORE Act,’ joined by my colleagues Representatives Barbara Lee, Earl Blumenauer, Nydia Velazquez, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Hakeem Jeffries, as well as many colleagues on this Committee who have signed on as cosponsors.
“This long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana. It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color.
“I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.
“This issue is not new to Congress. There have been many Members who have introduced bills upon which provisions in this bill are based. For instance, Representative Barbara Lee has championed many measures reflecting policies in the MORE Act, and I applaud her longstanding leadership on this issue. Representative Earl Blumenauer has also been an indefatigable advocate and has supported everything we have done to get to where we are today. I thank him, as well.
“Last Congress, the House voted in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner to address this issue. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to act. So today, we are moving forward again. Without any further delay, we need to reform these unjust laws.
“The MORE Act would make three important changes to federal law. It would: remove marijuana, or cannabis, from the list of federally controlled substances; authorize the provision of resources, funded by a federal tax on marijuana sales, to address the needs of communities that have been seriously impacted by the War on Drugs, including increasing the participation of communities of color in the burgeoning cannabis market; and provide for the expungement of Federal marijuana convictions and arrests.
“Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.
“The MORE Act would address some of these negative impacts. For example, it would establish an Opportunity Trust Fund within the Treasury Department to fund federal programs to support communities adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
“These programs would provide services to individuals—including job training, reentry services and substance use disorder services—and would provide funds for loans to assist small businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
“Our bill would also provide resources for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
“The collateral consequences of a conviction for marijuana possession— or even just an arrest—can be devastating.
“For individuals with a criminal record, it can be difficult or impossible to vote, to obtain educational loans, to get a job, to maintain a professional license, to secure housing, to receive government assistance, or even to adopt a child.
“These exclusions create an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans. Another important provision of the MORE Act recognizes this injustice and addresses these harmful effects by expunging and sealing federal convictions and arrests for marijuana offenses.
“In my view, criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, and the resulting collateral consequences, are unjust and harmful to our society. The MORE Act comprehensively addresses this injustice, and I urge all my colleagues to support this bill today.”
September 30, 2021
Today is a critical inflection point for our movement.
For the second time in US history, a bill to repeal the failed, unscientific, and racist policy of federal marijuana prohibition has passed the House Judiciary Committee. The bill was approved 26-15, with 24 Democrats joined by two Republicans voting yes and 15 Republicans voting no.
The last time the Judiciary Committee advanced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act — in November of 2019 — it took another 13 months before lawmakers approved the bill on the floor of the US House of Representatives.
But with an American being arrested for a marijuana law violation every 90 seconds, we cannot afford to wait.
You’ve already sent a message to your Representative in support of the MORE Act, but we need more voices speaking up and speaking out.
Will you share our post explaining this important win with your friends and community so that they will join you in taking action?
The status quo has never been acceptable to us but never has public support from every corner of the political spectrum been so aligned as to demand that Congress take action on cannabis policy reform.
In the last Congressional session, NORML supporters drove hundreds of thousands of messages to Congress in support of our reform efforts. And while we made history in the House, we came up short in the Senate under then-Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Today, things are different. With support for reform by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with allies Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, there is a real window in the US Senate to bring about tangible change.
While Sens. Schumer, Booker, and Wyden continue to review public comments regarding The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, we need the House to ramp up the pressure on their Senate colleagues to generate enough elected officials to the table to overcome the legislative filibuster.
So right now, we must strike while momentum is on our side. If you haven’t yet, contact your Senators and tell them to engage in this important debate and be ready for when the House sends their legislation to the chamber.
Working together, we will win.
NCIA Press Release
House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to End Federal Cannabis Prohibition
MORE Act – approved in House floor vote last year – would remove cannabis from schedule of controlled substances, expunge convictions, and help repair harms caused by outdated policies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances and end the state-federal conflict that currently exists in the majority of states which have regulated cannabis in some fashion. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, or H.R. 3617, was reintroduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and has 74 cosponsors.
In addition to removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, the bill would expunge non-violent federal cannabis convictions and support state efforts to do the same, provide opportunities and resources for cannabis businesses owned by women and people of color, create reinvestment programs for communities that have been adversely impacted by prohibition, improve immigration laws related to cannabis, and allow doctors in the Veterans Affairs system to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.
The MORE Act was originally approved in a full House vote in December 2020, becoming the first bill to end federal prohibition to pass in either chamber. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by now-Vice President Kamala Harris, but did not receive a hearing before the end of the session.
The current legislation must be considered or waived by several more committees of jurisdiction before it can be brought up for another floor vote.
“We are thankful that the House continues to pursue sensible cannabis policy reforms and is once again moving on this important bill,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “While the MORE Act lacks the robust regulatory structure we would like to see in a comprehensive descheduling bill, it represents the increasing support for ending prohibition among both lawmakers and the American public, not to mention the current policies of dozens of states around the country.”
“This bill would be a huge improvement on the status quo and is helping to further the conversation about what effective federal cannabis policy looks like,” Smith continued. “Removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act is absolutely necessary, and the MORE Act would be a big step in the right direction for restorative justice and making sure that small businesses and members of marginalized communities who have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition can benefit from the opportunities created by regulated cannabis markets.”
NCIA originally released recommendations for a federal regulatory framework in October 2019 and has been working with lawmakers to include them in comprehensive cannabis policy reform bills. Many of these ideas were incorporated in the draft language of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which was released in July by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). NCIA provided significant feedback developed with members and stakeholders from across the cannabis industry and will continue to work with sponsors to pass legislation that undoes as much of the damage caused by prohibition as possible, protects small businesses, and ensures that a well-regulated cannabis industry can reach its full potential in the United States.
Laws to make cannabis legal for adults have passed in 19 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 36 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.