“The continued criminalization of marijuana by the federal government is an affront to our professed ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice.” — Justin Strekal, political director of NORML.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon advanced HR 3617: the Marijuana, Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021. The bill was approved 26-15, with 24 Democrats joined by two Republicans.
The MORE Act repeals the long-standing federal prohibition of marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act — thereby ending the state/federal conflict over cannabis policies and providing state governments with greater authority to regulate marijuana-related activities, including retail sales.
“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 Justin Strekal, political director of NORML. “The continued criminalization of marijuana by the federal government is an affront to our professed ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice.”
Strekal called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leader Steny Hoyer, and House Whip Jim Clyburn to schedule the MORE Act for a full floor vote.
The MORE Act facilitates the expungement of low-level federal marijuana convictions. It also:
- Creates pathways for ownership opportunities in the emerging regulated industry
- Allows veterans to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors
- Removes the threat of deportation for immigrants accused of minor marijuana infractions
- Provides critical reinvestment grant opportunities for communities that have suffered disproportionate rates of marijuana-related enforcement actions
Reactions Among Legalization And Social Justice Advocates
“We are thankful that the House continues to pursue sensible cannabis policy reforms and is once again moving on this important bill,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).
Maritza Perez, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement that, “Despite all the progress we have made on reforming state marijuana laws across the country, it tragically still makes up the lion share of drug arrests in this country, resulting in one arrest every 90 seconds in 2020. And it should come as no surprise that it continues to be one of the—if not the single—biggest drivers of racial inequity in the U.S.”
Perez further noted that Thursday’s vote in the House Judiciary Committee “sends a clear message that they understand the injustices that have burdened Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities for far too long.”
Perez called passage of the MORE Act “a concrete and tangible step towards repairing the harm, providing new opportunities for participation in the legal market, and ensuring critical reinvestment in these communities.”