After a lot of delays, the act of Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) was finally voted on by the House of Representatives at the beginning of December 2020. Although the bill has not been passed by the Senate yet, it is expected to lay the foundation for decriminalizing cannabis at a federal level if it does! However, this wouldn’t make cannabis legal all across the United States. The bill is primarily focused on allocating individual rights to each of the states so that they can freely regulate the substance. The provisions of MORE, in particular, include the expungement of records and convictions related to cannabis that were previously exercised as well as measures to aid those harmed due to the war on drugs and allow them to participate actively in the legal cannabis market.
Despite the bill not yet being passed, activists continue to celebrate
Even though MORE is not yet perfect and still has to pass through the scrutiny of the Senate (that is least likely to come up with a vote on MORE in the upcoming congressional sessions, Politico emphasizes), activists across the U.S. are celebrating the bill and calling it the foremost victory in this series. They have a firm belief that MORE would be the foundation for decriminalizing cannabis as it is the first federal cannabis legislation, of its kind. It signals the transformation of public and political opinion about cannabis, and that is a victory in itself!
There’s more to the MORE Act, but only if the Senate approves
The MORE Act could not only decriminalize cannabis but may also contribute to the foundation of an emerging industry. In turn, creating superb opportunities for investment and production.
Blumenauer, as a co-sponsor of MORE, stated that accepting this act was the right decision by the House of Representatives. He has been struggling to remove the prohibitions on the usage of cannabis for decades now. In his opinion, the war against drugs has done nothing to help keep more dangerous drugs, with no medicinal value, off the street and has resulted in youth, particularly African-American youth, not being able to use medical cannabis legally and being disproportionately punished when found with the substance.
Former President Richard Nixon came up with these convictions against cannabis back in the 1960s and was under the belief that cannabis should be classified in the same category as ecstasy and heroin, which are Schedule 1 drugs – widely accepted as the most likely to have the potential for abuse and having no current medicinal value. However, Blumenauer emphasizes that cannabis is not addictive and possesses many therapeutic benefits, and therefore should not be banned or classified as a Schedule 1 drug. He also says that cannabis is now being publicly accepted and that in turn makes the MORE Act a lot more effective and promising piece of legislation.
Erik Altieri, the executive director at NORML, has also made a remarkable comment about MORE. He says that it has been the first time in the history of 50 years that the categorization of cannabis as a federally controlled substance has even been reviewed. In his statement, he also emphasizes that California has become the first state to confront the federal government over the issue of cannabis convictions in around 24 years.
Though celebrations are due, people in the cannabis industry must not forget about the fact that the bill was amended before it was voted on in the House of Representatives. The amendments, primarily, included tax provisions disqualifying those who’ve previously faced cannabis convictions from participating in the legal cannabis industry. However, it was added that those with non-violent cannabis convictions in the past will be allowed to enter the legal cannabis industry.
What does the future hold for the cannabis industry?
In short, the MORE act could definitely decriminalize cannabis in the long run. Though the provisions of this act have been amended a little, it still holds the favor of the cannabis industry as a whole and may encourage emerging industries. Regardless of the fact that the Senate may or may not approve MORE, it has surely set the stage for long-anticipated change to the foundation against the war on drugs.
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