“It is the most sweeping marijuana reform bill ever in Congress,” says the Drug Policy Alliance.
New legislation introduced in Congress would decriminalize marijuana on the federal level and work toward dismantling years of damage inflicted by the decades-long “War on Drugs.”
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday (July 23) by Senator Kamala Harris, with companion legislation sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler in the House of Representatives, CNN reported.
The bill is endorsed by major drug policy reformers including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Drug Policy Alliance.
Inside The MORE Act
“It is the most sweeping marijuana reform bill ever in Congress,” the DPA stated. “It would de-schedule marijuana at the federal level to let states set their own policies without interference and begin to repair the extensive damage done by prohibition.”
The MORE Act would remove marijuana from Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act, enacted in the 1970s. Under this designation, marijuana is defined by the federal government as a drug with no medical value and a high potential for abuse. Heroin, ecstasy and LSD also reside in the Schedule I category.
By removing cannabis from Schedule I, each state will be given the opportunity to establish its own marijuana policy. And it would remove a major roadblock for marijuana research, which has been hindered by its Schedule I status for years.
The bill would also channel tax revenue from the marijuana industry to go toward the three-part Opportunity Trust Fund, as outlined by the Daily Beast.
The first part of the fund, the Community Reinvestment Grant, would provide job training, literacy programs, and re-entry services “for individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs,” according to the bill’s text.
The second, the Cannabis Opportunity Grant, would provide money to marijuana businesses owned by people who are economically and socially disadvantaged.
And the third, the Equitable Licensing Grant, would reduce barriers to participating in the marijuana industry by, for example, waiving cannabis license application fees to people who live well below the Federal Poverty Level.
“Times have changed—marijuana should not be a crime,” said Senator Harris, who is also a 2020 presidential hopeful, in a statement. “As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone—especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs—has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry.”
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have passed legal recreational marijuana laws. And 33 states and D.C. have passed legal medical marijuana laws.