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MORE Act set for House Vote in December

MORE Act Vote Date

MORE Act Vote Date in December

The MORE Act vote date was originally proposed for a vote in September before it was postponed. Now the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this December on the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act which would effectively legalize marijuana on a federal level by eliminating it from the Controlled Substances Act. The House Democratic leadership is preparing for a vote on the bill next month.

As well as legalizing marijuana on a federal level, the legislation will allow states to continue to choose how to regulate a commercial marijuana industry industry.

Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, delivered a letter to colleagues outlining the legislative schedule for this upcoming November and December sessions. The letter stated that the House would vote on the bill but did not specify precisely which day in December. In December, the House is in session from the 1st to the 4th and the 7th to the 10th.

Hoyer stated, “The House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent marijuana offenses which have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for loans and credit, and accessing opportunities which make it feasible to get ahead in our economy.”

There are still challenges to overcome if the MORE Act is approved. The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to take the bill up and a new Congress is set to convene in 2021. However with the new president elect, Joe Biden and vice president, Kamala Harris taking office, there has been strong recent evidence that democrats support marijuana decriminalization.

Initially scheduled for a September vote, some Democrats in close elections were concerned about voting on the MORE Act having concerns that voters might question the value of legalizing cannabis when Congress has yet to agree on a coronavirus aid package. However, in the November election, five additional states legalized recreational and/or medical marijuana. The initiative is continuing to gain steam and should continue to be a hot topic in 2021, especially as the U.S. economy looks for ways to rebound from the COVID pandemic.

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Kamala Harris Reiterates Cannabis Decriminalization and Expungements Are a Priority

Democrats Support Marijuana Decriminalization

In a recent interview, Kamala Harris (Democrat-CA), Democratic Party vice-president nominee, stated again that decriminalizing cannabis would be an administrative priority if Joe Biden and herself win the election. Democrats support marijuana decriminalization and expunging marijuana criminal records, in general, and have consistently voiced support for legislation to push these initiatives.

The interview was last Saturday on The Grio and the Harris spoke about the prospective Democratic government’s criminal justice agenda, comparing it with that of President Donald Trump. Harris reiterated the cannabis reform would be one of their policy objectives.

Harris stated, “We have a commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and expunging the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana offenses. When you examine the horrible war on drugs and the disproportionate effect it had on black males and generating then criminal records which have deprived individuals of access to housing and jobs and basic benefits.”

Cannabis reform advocates have enjoyed the senator’s repeated calls for marijuana reform on the campaign trail, they do not like her trend to refer to the drug war in the past tense, as she did here by referring to the impact the policy “had”, not recognizing that those prosecutions and enforcement disparities have persisted.  FBI data shows that there were over 1.5 million drug-related arrests in the U.S. along last year and approximately one third of them were for marijuana. 

Some people are also claiming that Harris has scaled back her reform drive since joining the Democratic ticket as Joe Biden’s running mate. When Harris was herself running for the presidential nomination, she strongly supported cannabis legalization while Biden did not. In general, Democrats support marijuana decriminalization and expungement and Biden does back modestly rescheduling the drug under federal law, allowing states set their own policies and legalizing medical cannabis.

Harris, who’s the lead Senate sponsor of a bill to deschedule marijuana on a federal level, said last month that a Biden government wouldn’t be “half-steppin” cannabis reform or chasing “incrementalism.” Harris has repeatedly discussed cannabis decriminalization on the campaign trail. She said during a vice presidential debate earlier this month she and Biden “will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of people who were convicted of marijuana crimes.”

Click here to watch the Kamala Harris interview on The Grio and discussions on the black male vote and Democrats support marijuana decriminalization and expungement.

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Federal Cannabis Legalization in the Crosshairs After the U.S. Election

Federal Cannabis Legalization

Federal cannabis legalization could become a reality after the upcoming presidential election in November. Washington D.C. marijuana advocates are taking a hard look at what the post-legalization landscape would look like.

Many Washington D.C. trade institutions and nonprofits are predicting a bill to federally legalize cannabis could pass Congress in the near future if Joe Biden wins the presidential election and the democratic party controls the House and the Senate.

Randal Meyer, executive director of the International Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC), said “If the Democrats do a clean sweep, then descheduling with interstate commerce is absolutely within the realm of possibility.”

Descheduling would be the best case scenario for federal cannabis legalization and would have the following impact immediately:

  • Legalizae cannabis federally
  • End 280E taxation restrictions
  • Open banking accessibility
  • Permit for interstate and worldwide cannabis trade

Steven Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “Descheduling unlocks everything else, such as banking, relief on 280E, everything, It’s a stone that kills three birds.”

Meyer, a former staffer in the office of Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, said the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, MORE Act “are the principal vehicle” if the Democrats do take the White House and the Senate, in part because it is already teed up in the House this year.

There are still many outcomes depending on how the upcoming elections pan out.

If, for example, Republicans retain control of the Senate or the White House, then the fallback strategy for several groups is to concentrate on piecemeal bills like the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. That piece of legislation would allow financial institutions to deal with cannabis-related companies without fear of governmental punishment.

But if Democrats are the majority winners this November, following the presumed passage of the MORE Act or legislation near to it, would turn into the regulatory framework that supports federal cannabis legalization.

GACC issued a 66-page draft of a bill which “ends cannabis prohibition and generates an all-encompassing regulatory framework” that would make it possible for states to take the lead and allow the U.S. FDA and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to manage interstate cannabis trade.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) issued a 48-page white paper touting a similar approach, asserting that a “one-size-fits all” regulatory framework could be ineffective.