The home handed the MORE regulation. Are weeds authorized now?
The house passed the MORE law. Are weeds legal now?
Legalization is like Beetlejuice – you have to say your name five times before it appears. In that case, the House of Representatives passed a bill today to remove marijuana from the list of dangerous drugs. Now the bill goes to the Senate and then to the White House. Until the president signs it, it’s just a Capitol Hill bill.
Why is everyone freaking out?
Because it is a historic milestone that deserves a celebration.
Cannabis users’ rights have moved from the hippie fringe of the 1960s to a majority vote in Congress. Celebrating this moment promotes the passage of legalization, which is needed as the Senate is controlled by Republicans and the new president-elect is for decriminalization but against legalization.
Headcount.org’s Cannabis Voter Project encourages people to email their senators.
What’s in the MORE Act?
Congress voted between 228 and 164 to pass HR 3884 – the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 [MORE Act of 2020]. This is a big deal because it contains some notable provisions. Here is the text from HR 3884.
For the first time since the 1970s, cannabis was no longer treated as heroin or PCP. Marijuana would no longer be a List I drug.
According to the bill:
“No later than 180 days after the effective date of this Act, the Attorney General will enter into a regulation under Section 201 (a) (2) to remove marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols from controlled substance lists.”
“Marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols are each considered a drug or other substance that does not meet the requirements for inclusion on a schedule.”
Millions of lives were changed by the war on marijuana that began in the 1930s. Police make more than 600,000 marijuana arrests each year.
One in three Americans now lives in a legalization state. Legal cannabis creates 243,000 important jobs. The House of Representatives vote is a ray of hope in a harrowing year for cannabis entrepreneurs. It’s more popular than any politician or party, Gallup reports.
“This year is really going to go out with a bang,” said pharmacy owner and longtime activist Debby Goldsberry in Oakland, CA. “And that is something that the entire industry needs right now. Maybe America needs this to be honest. This should be celebrated by everyone. “
MORE would be retroactive
The MORE Act could begin restoring full civil life to millions of people with a current or past marijuana crime. According to the bill:
“The changes to the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC 801 et seq.) Made in this section are retroactive and apply to all crimes committed, pending cases, registered convictions and, in the case of a juvenile, to all pending crimes or decisions on juvenile delinquency prior to , on or after the effective date of this Act. “
Police Major Neill Franklin (ret.), Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Partnership, said:
“As a police officer, I helped wage a so-called war on marijuana. But no matter how hard we tried, how many losses we were willing to take on our own side, how many dollars were spent, and how many lives were ruined, we have not weighed on supply or demand for very long. Today I am pleased to see that, after nearly fifty years of this catastrophic war, our Congress leaders have finally decided to lay down their arms and try something that works. “
The American War on Drugs was the mechanism for decades of policing and brutality, mostly directed against black people. In the end, it’s not just about changing laws, although this is a good place to start. (Photo by Richard Grant from protesters and police in Long Beach, California on May 31, 2020. Used with permission.)
A federal pot sales tax would pay for opportunity grants
The MORE Act includes a legalization tax that goes to an “Opportunity Trust Fund” to pay law enforcement and small business loans. The federal tax would be 5% of the selling price of a cannabis product.
A new “Cannabis Justice Office” in the Office of Justice will be established to fund the grant program, including:
Vocational trainingEntrance servicesLegal assistance in civil and criminal matters, including the overturning of cannabis convictionsLiteracy programsYouth recovery and mentoring programsHealth education programs and services to cope with the collateral effects of individuals or communities as a result of the war on drugsManaging drug use treatment services for those most exposed are affected by the war on drugs.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said:
“I have long believed that any attempt to reform our nation’s marijuana laws should include significant action to undo the harm that too many families and communities have suffered as a result of the war on drugs. These bills are part of a broader movement that needs to address inequalities in criminal justice, economics and more. “
And a cannabis opportunity program with a cannabis licensing authority
The program would also offer grants to increase licensing capital at the local level. A licensing authority that “reflects the racial, ethnic, economic and gender makeup of the state or place”, [would] serve as the supervisory authority for the fair licensing program. “
For reasons of diversity, the federal supervisory authorities want to see who is active in the industry, which would mean mandatory reporting for staff.
Help from federal small businesses could become easier
The Small Business Administration would not be able to discriminate against cannabis companies for loans and other help.
Immigration reform included
If marijuana is removed from the Controlled Substances Act, it cannot be used to trigger deportations or refuse asylum applications:
“Cannabis cannot be considered a controlled substance, and no immigration law benefit or protection shall be denied to a foreigner based on an event, including conduct, detection, admission, addiction or abuse, arrest, juvenile decision, or conviction related to it on cannabis, regardless of whether the event occurred before, on or after the date on which this Act came into force. “
Expulsion for Juvenile Federal Marijuana Offenders, etc.
Anyone who has had a federal case of juvenile cannabis since 1971 could wipe it off under the MORE Act. In addition, anyone in jail for Pot will receive a “verdict review” for a potentially reduced sentence.
“I’ve been working on this for 47 years,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the cannabis caucus of Congress, on Friday before the final vote in the House. “We are here because we failed three generations of young black and brown people whose lives can be ruined or lost through selective enforcement of these laws. This legislation will end this disaster. It is time for Congress to do its part. We have to catch up with the rest of the American people. “
What’s not in the MORE Act?
The MORE Act doesn’t just sing and dance for federal commercial legalization. It only lets states go their own way with marijuana law. There would still be a lot of rework left.
Conservative states will likely continue to ban marijuana under their own state law, as opposed to federal law. Young blacks and browns may still be arrested in disproportionate numbers in these states.
Know your state pot laws
Leafly’s Guide to Legalizing Marijuana
The MORE Act is, according to critics, a cumbersome step towards legal cannabis diversity and inclusion. For example, a later amendment bans top criminals from industrial jobs and essentially punishes victims of drug wars.
Steven Hawkins, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said: “There is a lack of a perfect bill and at least one provision can hopefully be removed before it is final. This policy could prevent many of the individuals charged with past marijuana offenses from entering the legal market that will hamper our ability to create a just and fair marijuana industry. The fact that this may apply to anyone who has never been convicted of a crime makes it particularly unacceptable. “
David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as chief of the California Bureau for Leafly.com. He has written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and author of several cannabis books including ‘Marijuana Harvest’ by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He is the co-host of the Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns
Show article by David Downs