Across the US, cannabis is being legalized one state at a time, now with 33 states having legalized medical cannabis and 11 states plus Washington, DC, legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over 21. And just this past July, a comprehensive law bill governing cannabis was introduced by US Representative Jerrold Nadler and Senator Kamala Harris—who happens to be running for president in 2020.
The bill, known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, was established to have cannabis removed from the list of illegal substances under the Controlled Substances Act and decriminalized at the federal level. This would allow individual states to draft up their own policies on marijuana.
The MORE Act was also put in place to erase any previous marijuana-related convictions in federal court and let those who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses to request that their criminal records be erased. The Act would also establish protections for immigrants who may be facing deportation as a result of marijuana-related convictions.
But not only is the Act being put in place to finally legalize cannabis at a federal level, it is also slated to help give back to communities across the country through its proposed grant system. A 5% sales tax assessment on cannabis and cannabis-derived products would be used to collect funds to be put towards providing loans, grants, and other programs to help disparaged communities that have been negatively affected by the enforcement of cannabis laws.
An increasing number of lawmakers are loosening their attitudes towards marijuana and seek to ease the laws surrounding cannabis on a federal level. This isn’t the first bill of its kind to be introduced, with others having been brought forward in the past, including the Marijuana Justice Act introduced by Senator Cory Booker, as well as Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.
But advocates of legalizing marijuana applaud the new MORE bill and call it the “most comprehensive” bill on marijuana laws yet.
The story on cannabis has certainly shifted over the recent past, as an increasing number of cannabis businesses have opened their doors to masses of supportive customers. Such businesses—including cannabis farms—are also contributing to both local and national economies and generating billions of dollars in tax revenues. They’re also opening up plenty of job opportunities and helping strengthen the labor market in the country.
While the MORE bill may still have a ways to go, it’s still a step in the direction of changing marijuana laws at the federal level, which is a change that cannabis advocates are waiting for.