Update: The MORE Act to legalize marijuana is scheduled for a House vote on December 4.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair opined on the House floor on December 3:
"I've been waiting for this historic moment for a long time. It's happening because it has been demanded by the voters, by facts and by the momentum behind this issue. This is an opportunity to strike a blow against the failed War on drugs, that has literally destroyed hundreds of thousands of young Black lives. We are still arresting or citing 600,000 people a year for something that the majority of Americans now think should be legal. That's why the voters in this country took it into their own hands. That's why today 99% of the American population has some access to legalized cannabis. The MORE Act will help us set up a system moving forward.”
NORML suggests voters call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for their representatives.
One week after Election Day, which saw five states pass marijuana legalization measures, Congressional Cannabis Caucus members Blumenauer and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) urged their fellow House members in a letter to pass the MORE Act.:
"There’s no question: cannabis prohibition will end soon. We should lead the way by passing H.R.3884 - Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act."
The Congress members continued:
"Last week’s results reaffirm the strong bipartisan support to reform our failed cannabis prohibition. Even in states where Republicans easily swept elections, like in Mississippi and South Dakota, cannabis-related ballot measures passed with strong support. The success in Arizona, Montana, Mississippi, New Jersey and South Dakota means that cannabis will be legal for adult use in 15 states and medical use in 36 states. More than 109 million people will live in states where cannabis is legal for adults to use, that is more than one in three Americans. In total, almost 99% of Americans will live in states with some form of legal cannabis. We cannot ignore the will of the people any longer."
The letter ended with the following statement:
"The House was poised to vote on the MORE Act, the most comprehensive federal cannabis reform legislation we’ve ever seen, back in September. As the House kept our focus on providing struggling Americans with relief from COVID-19, we received commitment from our Caucus leadership that Congress would take steps to end the failed War on Drugs by voting on the MORE Act before the year was over. We have an opportunity and duty to correct course now. As we head into the lame-duck session, we must remember the promise we made to the American people to pass the MORE Act."
Like the letter says, efforts to have a vote on the MORE Act were tabled in September. Introduced in 2019 by Rep. Gerald Nadler in the House and by Vice President elect Sen. Kamala Harris in the Senate, the MORE Act “aims to correct the historical injustices of failed drug policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities by requiring re-sentencing and expungement of prior convictions. This will create new opportunities for individuals as they work to advance their careers, education and overall quality of life. Immigrants will also benefit from the Act, as they will no longer be subject to deportation or citizenship denial based on even a minor marijuana offense. It also ensures that all benefits in the law are available to juvenile offenders.”
Highlights of the MORE Act include removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, expunging prior convictions, creating an Opportunity Trust Fund, providing non-discrimination protections and ensuring that “people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.”
The House version (HR 3884) has more than 100 sponsors and has received endorsements from ACLU, Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Watch, NAACP, NORML and NOW.
If the MORE Act passes in the Democrat-controlled House, it goes to the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans.
Last September, the House passed the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow cannabis businesses to use federal banking services. It has yet to receive a Senate vote.
This article was posted on November 11 and updated on December 3.