Bill Would Remove Marijuana from Controlled Substances Act and Ensure Reparative Justice and Equity in Legalization
Legislation follows This Month’s Historic House Judiciary Hearing
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), which would de-schedule marijuana at the federal level and begin to rectify the extensive damage done by prohibition.
“For decades, low-income communities and people of color have borne the brunt of over-enforcement of failed marijuana laws and the life-long collateral consequences that follow a marijuana arrest,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. “While we won’t be able to repair that destruction overnight, the MORE Act ends prohibition in a fair and just way that begins to give back to those most affected.”
The MORE Act goes even further than previous bills and echoes a new set of principles for federal marijuana reform developed by DPA and other members of the Marijuana Justice Coalition, focused on racial justice and giving back to those most harmed by prohibition.
To do that, this bill would tax marijuana products at five percent to establish a trust fund which would:
- Provide grants to communities negatively impacted by the drug war for the development of record expungement processes, employment programs, reentry guidance, youth resources, and more
- Create more access to substance use treatment
- Encourage socially and economically disadvantaged people to enter the cannabis industry
- Create equitable licensing programs in states and local governments that benefit communities most impacted by prohibition
The legislation also aims to correct the historical injustices caused by prohibition by:
- Preventing the government from denying an individual federal benefits, student financial aid, or security clearances needed to obtain government jobs because of marijuana use
- Providing an opportunity for those convicted under marijuana laws to petition for resentencing and expungement
- Protecting immigrants that are at risk of deportation or citizenship denial based on a simple marijuana infraction
And to hold the industry accountable and ensure equity among those most harmed by prohibition, the MORE Act instructs the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect demographic data on the marijuana industry to guarantee people of color and those most economically disadvantaged are participating.
Sixty-eight percent of American voters support marijuana legalization. Thirty-three states plus the District of Columbia have laws that allow legal access to medical marijuana and 11 states plus the District of Columbia allow legal access to marijuana for adult use. Yet the continued enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws are responsible for more than 600,000 arrests in the United States every year. Black and brown people are disproportionately impacted, being four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than white people despite equal rates of consumption. Marijuana has also been one of the leading causes of deportation in the U.S.