Federal Lawmakers to Propose New Decriminalization Bill

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Kamala Harris are introducing a federal cannabis reform bill called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to both decriminalize cannabis and set up the expungement of prior cannabis convictions.

Full story after the jump.

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Kamala Harris are introducing a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and require previous cannabis convictions to be expunged or resentenced, according to a CNBC report. The measure — called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or the MORE Act — is designed to repair “the damage done by the war on drugs.”

The legislation would remove cannabis from the federal drug schedule and allow states to implement their own policies to regulate an industry or allow prohibition to remain on the books. It also prevents federal agencies from denying benefits to citizens found using cannabis, deporting immigrants for cannabis-related convictions, and would establish a 5 percent tax on cannabis products to create grants for minorities and low-income communities.

The bill would establish three funds aimed at so-called reparations for the War on Drugs that would provide job training, legal aid, and community reinvestment grants.

Nadler, a New York Democrat and chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that cannabis laws are “racially motivated” and have “disproportionately impacted communities of color.”

“It’s past time to right this wrong nationwide and work to view marijuana use as an issue of personal choice and public health, not criminal behavior.” – Nadler, in a statement, via CNBC

Harris, a former prosecutor and current presidential candidate, said in a statement that “marijuana should not be a crime.”

At the federal level, other presidential candidates have introduced cannabis law reform bills including New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker’s (D) Marijuana Justice Act, which contains many of the same provisions as the MORE Act, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D) STATES Act, which would strengthen the Tenth Amendment to ensure that federal authorities could not interfere with state-approved cannabis programs.

The House Judiciary Committee, which Nadler chairs, would need to clear the legislation before it would move to the chamber for a floor vote. If approved by the House, it would face an uphill battle in the Senate, which is controlled by Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell. McConnell told The Hill in May that he does not have “any plans to endorse the legalization of marijuana.”

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