Legalizing Marijuana: How the MORE Act Could Potentially Change Cannabis Laws Nationwide
Last September, the House of Representatives was set to vote on potentially removing marijuana from the Federal controlled substance list with the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act, also known as the MORE Act. This pro-cannabis act would also help possibly expunge some marijuana-related crimes and establish other prison reform measures to reduce systemic racism. Since Congress has prioritized its efforts into creating a much-needed COVID relief stimulus package, the MORE Act is currently on hold to be discussed until after the election. No matter how long it could take to pass the bill legalizing marijuana in both the House and Senate, the MORE Act has gained strong advocates in both political parties and could potentially change cannabis law forever if voted into legislation.
Majority leader Steny Hoyer commented that although Congress has yet to vote on the new bill, the MORE Act is a “critical component of the House Democrats’ plan for advancing criminal justice reform” and addressing systemic racism. Hoyer states that this historic vote could end “the federal government’s 40-yearlong misguided crusade” against marijuana and that our country can begin to repair some of the “harms caused by the war on drugs in the communities of color and low-income communities.”
The MORE Act could give individual states the ability to decide their own marijuana policies instead of being regulated by the federal government. For example, the new bill could permit physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration to possibly prescribe medical marijuana to qualifying veterans in legal cannabis states. The MORE Act also allows the Small Business Administration to support entrepreneurs and businesses as they gain a foothold into the emerging cannabis industry.
With an increased number of American’s supporting the legalization of recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, members in congress are optimistic about the new bill passing in both the senate and the house. In a 2019 Gallop survey, more than three-quarters of democrats supported the legalization of cannabis, compared to republicans that were half opposed and the other half for legalization. Since the delay in voting for the new bill, more representatives on both parties have pledged their votes to approve the MORE Act if discussed again on the congressional floor.
GOP supporters like Matt Gaetz and Tom McClintock agree that the MORE Act provides valuable benefits for individual state’s cannabis laws, although some might disagree with how cannabis businesses will be taxed. Since the bill could possibly expunge low-level cannabis convictions, the democrat led majority members of the House could possibly invest the taxable income from cannabis businesses into communities that are most impacted by the drug war. A spokesperson for McClintock stated that he intends to vote yes for the new bill, but he would like a few edits made to include how the taxable income from marijuana businesses to be invested back into helping COVID impacted small business and other industries.
Cannabis activists and other pro-cannabis representatives in the House hope that the bill legalizing marijuana will be brought to the congressional floor by the end of the year, but it could take another year or more for the bill to be discussed again in the Senate to be officially ratified into national law. With the possibility that presidential candidate Joe Biden might legalize marijuana nationwide if elected into office, legalizing marijuana might come sooner than expected to cannabis consumers everywhere who rely on the recreational and medicinal benefits for all body relief and wellness.