As members of Congress announce that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act will receive a floor vote next week, advocates are showing their support for the bill. With counterpart legislation expected soon in the Senate, groups like Marijuana Policy Project, NORML and Human Rights Watch have issued reports and statements.
Sen. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the MORE Act of 2021 last May. The stated purpose of the MORE Act is to remove cannabis as a controlled substance, tax sales of the plant for social equity and Drug War reparation programs, and provide a path for those convicted of federal marijuana crimes in the past to have them expunged, or removed.
Before the vote was announced, on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling for Congress to consider H.R. 3617. The House Judiciary Committee, headed by Nadler, voted 26 to 15 in favor of a floor vote in September.
“Another House floor vote on the newly introduced version of this bill is an urgent step towards advancing long overdue reform in the criminal legal system and beyond.” read the press release.
Among its reasons, the rights advocacy group referenced a 2016 report that it co-authored with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). According to the report, a person is arrested in the U.S. for drug possession for personal use every 25 seconds. Making matters worse, it states that “Black adults were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested for possession.”
“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,” said Morgan Fox in a statement yesterday, after the vote was announced.
A longtime cannabis advocate, Fox serves as Political Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He thanked a number of congressional representatives supportive of cannabis reform on behalf of cannabis consumers. NORML has supported decriminalization efforts since its founding in the 1970s.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) threw their weight behind reform legislation in a more general way on Tuesday. The group issued a report in accord with the 50th anniversary of the Shafer Commission. They called on Congress to heed the Commission’s recommendations that cannabis be decriminalized nationwide. Passing the MORE Act would be a big step in that direction.
“It is absolutely amazing that in 2022 we have a multi-billion dollar industry and an entire ecosystem around it, and at the same time we’re still arresting almost 600,000 people a year for simple possession.” said Toi Hutchinson, MPP’s executive director, during a virtual press conference.
Though the MORE Act faces resistance, it’s likely to clear the Democrat-controlled House. An impressive 113 House Democrats have signed on as cosponsors of H.R. 3617. They are joined by a single Republican, Florida’s Matt Gaetz.
The legislation passed the Republican-controlled House in 2019, with strong support. However, after being introduced in the Senate by Vice President Kamala Harris, then a senator, it died in the Senate Finance Committee. Even if it had been taken up, the bill faced long odds with Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in charge.
Democratic Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), who replaced McConnell as the majority last January, already has legislation in the works. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) joined Schumer last summer in introducing the Cannabis Administration & Organization Act. After receiving requested input from cannabis stakeholders last September, the revised bill is expected to serve as a counterpart to H.R. 3617.
- Minority Cannabis Academy: Social Equity in PracticeThe Minority Cannabis Academy graduated its first class of 25 students in September. The Academy’s goal is to take advantage of the social equity atmosphere in New Jersey to help those most harmed by prohibition.
- Marijuana Policy Project Releases Voter Guide to 2022 Governors’ Races and Cannabis Policy Reform Ahead of Midterm ElectionOn Tuesday, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) released their voter guide to 2022 governors’ races and cannabis policy reform. In 36 states, voters will be choosing their next governor on Election Day.
- Green Thumb to Launch “RISE Express” Dispensaries in FloridaGreen Thumb Industries Inc., a leading national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and owner of RISE Dispensaries, today announced plans to expand its medical retail footprint in Florida through a lease agreement with Circle K, the global convenience store retailer.
- Missouri AFL-CIO endorses cannabis legalization constitutional amendmentMissouri AFL-CIO president Jake Hummel on Thursday announced his organization was endorsing the proposal, which will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot as Amendment 3, calling it a “huge step forward for criminal justice reform in Missouri.”
- Minnesota’s Black cannabis users far more likely to face arrest than white onesBlack Minnesotans are nearly five times as likely to be arrested on marijuana charges as white ones, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It’s a disparity that has persisted for years, despite data showing that Black and white residents use cannabis at similar rates.
- Lawmakers ask MO governor to add cannabis legalization in special sessionA bipartisan group of lawmakers and activists are calling for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to include marijuana legalization on the agenda of the legislature’s upcoming special session.
- In Brief: Pa. Governor Accepting Cannabis Pardon Requests in Sept.Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announce the PA Marijuana Pardon Program, offering expedited pardon reviews to people convicted of only minor cannabis possession for personal use.
- Michigan State Police stops cannabis testing after false positivesMichigan State Police have acknowledged that its blood tests for marijuana are producing false positives for THC, and it will immediately halt testing.
- Missouri Dems expect boost from cannabis, but split on specificsSupport for legalization and heartburn about the amendment’s details have led to soul-searching among Democratic Party officials across the state. The consternation is particularly acute among Black Democratic leaders.
- Signatures on Nebraska medical cannabis petitions to get another lookThe Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office has agreed to take another look at signatures submitted by a group seeking legalization of medical marijuana to determine if they should have been counted.