SSDP Press Release: Congress is Back for MORE to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

The reintroduction of the MORE Act would remove federal penalties for marijuana and seek to repair the harms caused by decades of racially biased policing.

Today, leaders in the House of Representatives reintroduced a landmark bill to end federal marijuana prohibition and begin to repair the harms caused by decades of disproportionate arrests and prosecutions. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act was reintroduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) along with two of its biggest champions, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer. Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) applauds the reintroduction of the MORE Act and urges House leadership to swiftly move it forward towards a vote on the House Floor.

The MORE Act would end the federal criminalization of marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The bill would also expunge or provide pathways to resentencing for certain previous marijuana convictions. Additionally, the MORE Act would create the Opportunity Trust Fund, paid for by a modest tax on industry, to offer grants to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition enforcement, and offer funding for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses through the Small Business Administration.

Last year’s version of the MORE Act, passed in December, marked the first time the House voted to approve a bill to end the federal war on marijuana since the creation of the CSA a half-century ago. A potentially harmful provision added to last year’s version just before the December vote that could have denied individuals with cannabis convictions from obtaining a federal cannabis permit has been removed from this year’s version. As a member of the Marijuana Justice Coalition, SSDP worked to bring last year’s version of MORE to its successful vote and to ensure that potentially harmful provision was not included in the reintroduction.

“I’m proud to reintroduce the MORE Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler.  “I want to thank my colleagues, Representatives Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, as well Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, and Nydia Velázquez for their contributions to this legislation, and I look forward to our continued partnership as we work to get this legislation signed into law.”

“The MORE Act is a bold and critical step to providing reparations to the thousands upon thousands of lives that racist prohibition policy has damaged, incarcerated, and oppressed,” said SSDP board member and University of Texas-El Paso neuroscience major Marlo Holguin.  “The MORE Act brings more opportunity, more reinvestment, more justice to the communities of color that have been negatively affected by the federal war on marijuana, it is strong and opens the door to a new future.”

“Last year, we saw more progress toward cannabis legalization than ever before. This has been driven by unprecedented reforms at the state level. Now, Congress must deal with the problems created by the failed federal policy of prohibition,” said Congressman Blumenauer, co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “With a strong base of support in the House and the Senate, the table is set. It’s past time that we stop federal interference with cannabis banking and research, as well as the terrible pattern of selective enforcement that has devastated communities of color. The MORE Act will help address all of these problems and more.”

Congresswoman and Cannabis Caucus co-chair Lee added, “during the last year, people across the country have seen how injustice impacts communities of color—from police brutality to the COVID-19 pandemic. The War on Drugs is no exception. We must deliver justice to those most impacted by America’s racist and discriminatory cannabis laws. I’m proud to be working alongside Chairman Nadler and my Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair, Congressman Blumenauer, to reintroduce the MORE Act, which includes my bill—the Marijuana Justice Act—to bring restorative justice to communities of color impacted most.”

“Ending prohibition must come with a dedicated investment into repairing the harm done and uplifting the communities who were racially targeted by the racist enforcement of marijuana prohibition and the MORE Act is the best piece of legislation to finally address this history,” said SSDP Executive Director Jason Ortiz “Black and Brown communities have been devastated by disproportionate marijuana arrests and prosecutions, yet white-owned multistate cannabis businesses are reaping nearly all of the economic rewards of legalization.”   

SSDP calls on Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer to quickly move the bill towards a vote on the House Floor as quickly as possible. With Senate leaders expected to introduce their own comprehensive marijuana reform bill in the near future, swift passage of MORE in the House will encourage the Senate to move quickly on their bill as well.  

“This bill will not only put an end to harmful federal cannabis policies that have ruined countless lives, it will seek to reverse the damage by providing true equity and opportunity for those looking to access this booming industry,” said Congresswoman Lee. “We are on our way toward true justice.”

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For more information contact the SSDP U.S. Policy Council: policy@ssdp.org