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House of Representatives Expected To Vote on MORE Act Next Week

The House Rules Committee said on Thursday it has scheduled a Monday hearing to hear the legislation, called the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE), to review any amendments. The bill has been placed on the House’s schedule for consideration next week by the Democratic Leadership.

The MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act’s list. Criminal penalties for cannabis offenses in federal court would also be abolished. Past federal cannabis convictions will be extinguished. H.R. The bill, H.R. 3617, also imposes a tax for retail cannabis sales. Revenue from the tax will be invested in areas that have been harmed by federal cannabis prohibition policies.

The House’s vote on the MORE Act was praised by cannabis activists, including Morgan Fox (the political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)

“Advancing this legislation to deschedule marijuana and to help those individuals and communities that have borne the brunt of America’s failed prohibition is pivotal,” Fox said in a statement from the group. “More than two-thirds of Americans support repealing the federal prohibition of marijuana and they deserve to know where our elected officials stand on this issue.”

Social Equity Provisions were included in The MORE Act

The MORE Act created an Opportunity Trust Fund to address the effects of cannabis prohibition. This fund would support job training, rehabilitation services for people who have already been in prison, as well as health education programs that will help communities affected by the War on Drugs. It also established an Office of Cannabis Justice, which would implement social equity provisions of this bill, promote cannabis research and make sure that cannabis users have access to federal benefits. A Cannabis Restorative Opportunity Program would be developed by the Small Business Association to reduce barriers to cannabis participation.

“For over half a century, marijuana prohibition has stood as the cornerstone of the cruel and inhumane drug war that has robbed millions of people of their freedom and their livelihoods,” said Maritza Perez, director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The weight of which has disproportionately fallen on the backs of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income communities — who remain its number one target. They’ve been denied jobs, housing, educational opportunities and far more. They’ve had their families torn apart. Others lost their immigration status. And our communities have suffered gravely as a result.”

“But today, thanks to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer’s leadership in scheduling the MORE Act for a floor vote, we have hope that the days of this continued oppression are numbered,” Perez continued. “We urge their House colleagues to vote in favor of this bill and swiftly pass it to ensure our communities are not put on the backburner and made to wait a moment more for long-overdue justice.”

In 2020, the MORE Act was passed by the House of Representatives. However, the Senate did not give the bill a hearing. George Macheril (CEO of Bespoke Financial), believes the legislation may not receive final approval once more as Democratic leaders present different proposals for legalizing cannabis.

“While the House vote on the MORE Act is expected to pass again, we see this as more of a symbolic gesture which will have very little chance of surviving the Senate,” Macheril wrote in an email to Chronic News. “Unlike the challenges the bill faced previously under a Republican-controlled Senate, the bill’s most stringent opposition now comes from other cannabis industry allies in DC with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer among those vowing to block all cannabis reform bills apart from his own proposed solution (CAOA), the details of which are expected to be shared in April 2022. We believe that meaningful legislative change which positively impacts the industry before 2024 is unlikely, especially considering the challenges and nuance required to implement new regulations.”