A new bipartisan bill to remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances has just been introduced in the U.S. Congress. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act (the MORE Act) of 2019 aims to decriminalize “cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses and for other purposes.
”The MORE Act plans to entirely remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively decriminalizing it federally and allowing the states to set their own policies. It is a no-nonsense bill that does not allow exceptions, as it plans to delete any mention of marijuana from every list of federally prohibited drugs. This would allow the cannabis industry in legal states to operate more safely without risk of federal interference, to access banking and to be treated normally in regard to taxes. “The MORE Act is the most comprehensive marijuana reform bill ever introduced in Congress,” according to NORML, the leading advocacy group for marijuana reform.
The bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3884) is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by 32 representatives, including familiar names of the effort for cannabis reform like Earl Blumenauer, but it is also supported by a Republican, Matt Gaetz. In the U.S. Senate, the bill (S. 2227) is carried by presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), with the support of rivals in the presidential race Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren.
This bill distinguishes itself from other initiatives, such as the recent Marijuana Justice Act, which also aimed to amend the Controlled Substances Act, by adding social justice provisions. For instance, the MORE Act includes the creation of an “Opportunity Trust Fund,” filled with the net revenues from taxes on imported smoking products like tobacco, cigarette papers and tubes. That fund would then be used to help undo the damage of the War on Drugs.
More specifically, the House and Senate bills call for the creation of a Cannabis Justice Office and a grant program to offer job training, legal assistance, literacy programs, health and recreation programs to individuals and communities most impacted by the War on Drugs. It says that no person shall be denied federal benefits on the basis of past or future cannabis-related offenses. But most importantly, the bill wants to automatically expunge certain cannabis offenses, such as that of juvenile delinquency.