MORE Act Brings Congress Closer to Cannabis Legalization

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Late August, an email from Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) office revealed that the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting in September on historic legislation to decriminalize.1 Confirmed in a letter from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on August 31, members of the House were notified of various legislative topics for the upcoming month, including a vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act (“MORE Act”).2
Speaking to Marijuana Moment, Hoyer stated: “I’m pleased to bring the MORE Act to the House Floor next month to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. This legislation is an important step to correct the disproportionate impact our criminal justice system has had on communities of color.”3
Introduced in July of 2019 by House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the MORE Act aims to remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under by the Controlled Substances Act, and eliminate criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.
If passed, the bill will also: (i) replace statutory references to “marijuana” and “marihuana” with “cannabis;” (ii) require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees; (iii) imposes a 5% tax on cannabis products and require revenues to be deposited into a trust fund established to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs; (iv) establish a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses; and (v) extend Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers, among other things.
While the MORE Act appears to have bipartisan support – it passed the House Judiciary Committee last November in a 24-10 vote, with support from Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tom McClintock (R-CA)4– it’s odds in the Republican-held Senate remain slim.
The House vote on the MORE Act is expected to take place during the week of September 21, 2020.
For more information on the House of Representatives’ current legislative session, click here.
  1. Fertig, Natalie. “House Set to Vote on Marijuana Legalization,” August 28, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/28/marijuana-legalization-house-vote-404455
  2. Jaeger, Kyle. “Top House Democrat Announces Federal Marijuana Legalization Vote Details,” August 31, 2020. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/top-house-democrat-talks-marijuana-reform-with-major-cannabis-company/
  3. Jaeger, Kyle. “Top House Democrat Announces Federal Marijuana Legalization Vote Details,”
  4. Axelrod, Tal. “House to Vote on Removing Cannabis from List of Controlled Substances.” The Hill. Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., August 29, 2020. https://thehill.com/homenews/house/514237-house-to-vote-on-a-bill-to-remove-cannabis-from-list-of-controlled-substances

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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