House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) reintroduced The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 on Friday.
If approved, the MORE Act — which was crafted with an emphasis on empowering states to enact their own cannabis policies — would remove penalties for cannabis possession, clear some cannabis-related criminal records, and establish social equity programs dedicated to repairing the communities most disadvantaged by the racist drug war and undoing other generational harms of cannabis prohibition.
The bill’s House co-sponsors include Cannabis Caucus co-Chairs Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Chairwoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY).
The bill would establish an Opportunity Trust Fund, funded by a five percent tax (which would increase to an 8 percent tax over three years) on retail cannabis sales. This fund would cover job training, health education, re-entry, and other services including legal aid for people from the most impacted communities. The bill also calls for creating an Office of Cannabis Justice, which would oversee the new social equity requirements.
“Since I introduced the MORE Act last Congress, numerous states across the nation, including my home state of New York, have moved to legalize marijuana. Our federal laws must keep up with this pace. 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.” — Rep. Nadler, in a press release
When House lawmakers first approved the MORE Act last December, it was the first time a body of Congress voted to end cannabis prohibition, but the bill eventually died in the then-Republican-controlled Senate.
However, with Democrats now in control of the Senate as well as the House, it remains unknown whether the MORE Act would reach the Senate floor as Congress is anticipating a separate federal legalization bill from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). While the exact language of that bill remains unknown, it is expected to likewise address social justice concerns and seek to repair the harms of cannabis prohibition — and Sen. Schumer has suggested that he may prioritize his own legislation over other cannabis reform efforts.
“With a strong base of support in the House and in the Senate, the table is set,” said Rep. Blumenaur, who co-founded the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “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.”
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