Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden publicly announced today that his running mate is California Senator Kamala Harris, the lead Senate sponsor of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. Since the bill’s introduction last year, NORML has been a leader in the federal lobbying efforts in support of the MORE Act, which seeks to end the federal prohibition of marijuana and provides inducements for states to expunge the records of those with marijuana-related convictions.
Last November, members of the House Judiciary Committee advanced the House version of the MORE Act, marking the first time in history that federal lawmakers have moved forward legislation to remove (a/k/a deschedule) cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). NORML believes that comprehensive federal marijuana policy reform is only possible via descheduling marijuana rather than by rescheduling it. Just as alcohol is not included in the CSA, thereby leaving states to be the primary regulators of their own alcohol policies, NORML maintains that cannabis should similarly be descheduled.
NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said: “Passage of the MORE Act is essential in order to truly right the wrongs of federal marijuana criminalization. It is time for the Democratic Party to adopt the marijuana policy reform platform that is currently articulated by Senator Harris’s MORE Act.”
The House version of the Act, HR 3884, currently has over 80 cosponsors, including Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujan; Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and caucus-Vice Chair Katherine Clark; and Committee Chairs Maxine Waters, Jim McGovern, Raul Grijalva, and Nydia Velazquez; and Cannabis Caucus co-Chairs Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee.
To date, NORML members have sent over 100,000 messages to Congress in support of the Act’s passage.
The MORE Act is supported by the Marijuana Justice Coalition, of which NORML is a member. Other groups in the alliance include The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Drug Policy Alliance, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Center for American Progress (CAP), The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Human Rights Watch, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), the National Association of Social Workers, the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, and many others.
“Should the Democratic-led House take action in the coming months to pass the MORE Act, it would demonstrate to voters that they, like the super-majority of Americans, recognize that the time has come to end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization,” added NORML’s Strekal. “Federal marijuana prohibition was implemented in 1937 explicitly out of racial animus. This criminalization is not, nor has it ever been, an evidence-based public policy. It’s time for this country to do better.”
To date, no Senate committee has yet to take up any bill to address cannabis policy reform in the 116th Congress.
- A super-majority of Americans, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support making marijuana use legal in the United States, according to nationwide polling data compiled by Gallup;
- According to a recent report by the ACLU, Black Americans are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related crimes than white Americans;
- According to the FBI UCR, over 663,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in 2018, the last for which data is available;
- The state-legal cannabis industry employs over 243,000 full-time workers; that is over four times the number of jobs in the coal industry;
- While the adult use of cannabis is not without potential health risks, it is far less harmful than legal and regulated alcohol and tobacco.
The MORE Act would:
- Remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that state governments would be the primary crafters of marijuana-related policy
- Facilitate federal expungements for minor charges and incentivize state and local governments to do the same
- Create pathways for ownership opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs through the SBA
- Allow veterans to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors
- Remove the threat of deportation for those immigrants involved in minor marijuana violations
You can read the full text of the MORE Act at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3884