Late last week Representative Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, alongside Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, and Nydia Velázquez introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment, and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) into Congress.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) describes the MORE Act as a piece of legislation that would end “the criminalization of cannabis for adults by removing it from the list of controlled substances, eliminate related criminal penalties, and take several other major steps toward criminal justice reform, social justice, and economic development.”

Jerry Nadler, who re-introduced the legislation in the House last Friday wrote in a statement, “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.”

Key Provisions

Here are the key provisions of the bill, according to MPP:

  • Not only would the MORE Act end the criminalization of cannabis at the federal level going forward, it would also be retroactive. Cannabis arrests, charges, and convictions would be automatically expunged at no cost to the individual. (While an improvement, states could continue to criminalize cannabis.)
  • The measure would impose a 5% tax on the retail sales of cannabis to go to the Opportunity Trust Fund. The measure was amended to start at 5% and increase the tax to 8% over three years.
  • The MORE Act would create the Office of Cannabis Justice to oversee the social equity provisions in the law.
  • The bill would ensure the federal government could not discriminate against people because of cannabis use, including earned benefits or immigrants at risk of deportation.
  • The measure would open the door to research, better banking and tax laws, and help fuel economic growth as states are looking for financial resources.

While it is likely that the House will once again approve the legislation, it remains to be seen whether or not the Senate will take up the bill or not. The bill did not advance in the Senate last year under the leadership of Mitch McConnell. However, the Senate is working on their own piece of legislation which is expected to be introduced later this year and has the backing of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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