WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, H.R. 3884, is headed to a vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives after clearing the House Rules Committee Wednesday afternoon. The vote, expected to take place Friday, will represent the first time a bill to repeal cannabis prohibition received a hearing before an entire chamber of Congress.
The bill passed out of committee without amendment after only an hour’s worth of testimony.
If signed into law, the MORE Act would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act; eliminate criminal penalties for manufacturing, distribution, and possession; expunge low-level marijuana convictions; block federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances due to cannabis use; allow Veterans Administration physicians to recommend medical cannabis; and impose a 5-percent federal excise tax, among other things. In addition, the MORE Act would establish a Cannabis Justice Office to oversee funds and grants intended to support individuals most adversely impacted by the war on drugs, including an Opportunity Trust Fund and a Community Reinvestment Grant Program.
“The historic nature of today’s progress cannot be overstated,” said Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “For the first time in American history, the public will see the ‘People’s House’ vote to end the senseless, cruel, and racist policy of marijuana criminalization and prohibition.”
Steven Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “Following today’s favorable vote, members of the U.S. House of Representatives on both sides of the aisle now have the opportunity and responsibility to come together and pass this important piece of legislation. The prohibition and criminalization of marijuana has led to decades of injustice and devastating consequences, and it’s clear that a strong majority of Americans do not support the status quo. It is past time for Congress to take real action.”
A companion bill introduced in the Senate by then-Senator, now Vice President-elect, Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) has languished in the Committee on Finance since July 2019 and is not expected to see action this legislative session. If Republicans maintain control of the upper chamber after a runoff election in Georgia determines which party will hold that state’s two seats, it’s doubtful Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow S. 227 to be taken up after the 117th Congress convenes in January, either. McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, notoriously excoriated marijuana even while shepherding the 2018 farm bill that legalized hemp through the Senate.