With a 26-15 vote, the House Judiciary Committee passed the MORE Act Thursday evening, giving a major boost to the comprehensive cannabis reform legislation first introduced in 2019.
Marijuana Moment first reported the news shortly after the vote.
While the U.S. House has passed this bill before, in a December 2020 vote, that version ultimately got nowhere in the U.S. Senate. U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, refiled the bill earlier this year.
"I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake," Nadler wrote. "The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color."
The MORE Act would deschedule cannabis and retroactively expunge past cannabis convictions at the federal level. It would impose a 5% tax on the retail sales of cannabis to go to the Opportunity Trust Fund, a rate that would increase to 8% over three years. The bill also includes social equity provisions (including the development of the Office of Cannabis Justice and the distribution of grants) and ongoing research components.
“Never before has public support from every corner of the political spectrum been so aligned as to demand that Congress take action to end the shameful experiment with marijuana prohibition,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal in a public statement. “The continued criminalization of marijuana by the federal government is an affront to our professed ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice. By advancing the MORE Act, the House will demonstrate that the majority of our political leaders are ready to correct this injustice and enact cannabis policy reform that undoes the harms that have been inflicted upon millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens.”
In other cannabis reform news, the U.S. House has moved forward with a defense spending bill that includes the SAFE Banking Act as an amendment. Along with the MORE Act, this banking reform proposal would usher in a sea change of policy for the industry, opening up access to financial institutions for private businesses otherwise strapped with onerous regulations and cash-heavy standard operating procedures.
On a related note, the public comment period for the draft version of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) wrapped up Sept. 1. These bills aren't competing, necessarily, but rather are two versions of the broader goal for an equitable and legal cannabis industry in the U.S. The CAOA can trace its legislative genetics through the MORE Act and the earlier Marijuana Justice Act, which was also spearheaded by CAOA sponsor U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
Exciting times in the industry.
“States across the country have taken the lead on cannabis legalization, and now it is time for Congress to pass federal reform, a policy that is supported by a strong majority of Americans," Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a public statement.