Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, also known as the MORE Act, is a 2019 proposed piece of U.S. federal legislation that would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and enact various criminal and social justice reforms related to cannabis, including the expungement of prior convictions. The legislation has been called "historic" in reaching "farther in the legislation process than any other such bill since prohibition" of cannabis in the 1930s, and marks "the first time in history a congressional committee has approved a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition".
The act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, facilitate the expungement of past convictions, and tax cannabis products at 5% to fund criminal and social reform projects, including an Office of Cannabis Justice within the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, responsible for administering grants to aid communities negatively affected by the war on drugs. It would also prohibit the denial of any federal public benefits, like housing, on the basis of cannabis use and states that use or possession of marijuana would have no adverse impact under immigration laws.
According to USA Today, "The trust funds the Act would create include the Community Reinvestment Grant, which would provide funding for services such as job training, re-entry services and legal aid; the Cannabis Opportunity Grant, which would provides funds to assist small businesses in the pot industry; and the Equitable Licensing Grant, which minimizes barriers to gain access to marijuana licensing and employment for those most impacted by the so-called war on drugs."
States would maintain their own laws regarding the substance, including whether to legalize it locally.
Matching bills were introduced to the House of Representatives by Jerry Nadler and to the Senate by Kamala Harris on July 23, 2019. Harris was a 2020 Democratic Party candidate for president of the United States at the time and later became the party's nominee for vice president, alongside presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The act was passed with a 24–10 majority by the House Judiciary Committee following markup on November 20, 2019. Only two Republicans voted in favor. The legislation was scheduled for a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health on January 15, 2020, titled "Cannabis Policies For The New Decade".
In August 2020, on the behalf of a long list of civil rights and drug policy activist groups, Vanita Gupta sent a letter to Democratic congressional leaders calling for a vote on the act. The letter states that "In the face of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national dialogue on unjust law enforcement practices, marijuana reform as a modest first step at chipping away at the War on Drugs is more relevant and more pressing than ever before." According to a message released by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn's (D-SC) office, the House will vote on the bill in September 2020. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, in a letter to colleagues, confirmed that the vote would occur by the end of September. This was later delayed until later in the year as a result on needing to focus on COVID-19-related spending.
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- Sullum, Jacob (July 23, 2019), "The Harris-Nadler Marijuana Bill Goes Further Than Others in Ways Good and Bad", Reason
- Text of S.2227, govtrack.us, accessed November 18, 2019
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- Jon Blistein (January 14, 2020), "Hot Box the House: Inside the Marijuana Bills Congress Will Debate This Week", Rolling Stone
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- Best, Paul (August 29, 2020). "Marijuana decriminalization vote expected in House". Fox News. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- Gupta, Vanita (August 13, 2020). "Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act Letter". The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- Scott Wong (August 31, 2020). "House to tackle funding, marijuana in September". The Hill – via MSN.
- Ferris, Sarah; Fertig, Natalie (September 17, 2020). "House punts marijuana vote". Politico. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
- H.R.3884 - Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, U.S. House of Representatives
- S.2227 - "MORE Act of 2019", U.S. Senate