Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, also known as the MORE Act, is a 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. Introduced in 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill on December 4, 2020, marking the first time a chamber of Congress approved legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition.
|Long title||An act to decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.|
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, "[t]he 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. At the time, Harris was a 2020 Democratic Party candidate for U.S. president.
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. This was the first time in history a congressional committee approved a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition. 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 would 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.
Following the November 2020 elections, Hoyer announced the bill would get a floor vote in December. Following debate on the House floor on December 3, a vote was scheduled for December 4, when the bill passed with a 228–164 majority, mostly along party lines. 222 Democrats voted for the bill, while Cheri Bustos, Henry Cuellar, Conor Lamb, Dan Lipinski, Chris Pappas, and Collin Peterson were the six Democrats voting against. 158 Republicans voted against the bill, while Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Tom McClintock, Denver Riggleman, and Don Young were the five Republicans voting in favor. The sole Libertarian in the House, Justin Amash, also voted for the bill.
Nadler reintroduced the bill to Congress on May 28, 2021, with some changes. On June 1, Amazon's consumer CEO announced the company's support for the bill and that it would no longer test non-transportation workers for cannabis use. Amazon also announced that it would use its "public policy team" (lobbying resources) to back the bill. On June 4, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights published a letter urging Congress to pass the bill. On September 30, 2021, the House Committee on the Judiciary referred the bill for a vote by the House.
|Congress||Short title||Bill number(s)||Date introduced||Sponsor(s)||# of cosponsors||Latest status|
|116th Congress||MORE Act of 2019||H.R. 3884||July 23, 2019||Jerry Nadler
|120||Passed in the House|
|S.2227||July 23, 2019||Kamala Harris
|8||Died in Committee|
|117th Congress||MORE Act of 2021||H.R. 3617||May 28, 2021||Jerry Nadler||76||Referred by House Committee on the Judiciary on September 30, 2021|
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- 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