House reintroduces bill to decriminalize cannabis, create social equity programs – NBC News


After voting overwhelmingly to decriminalize cannabis in the federal level, congressional leaders reintroduced a bill Friday to attack marijuana in the record of controlled materials and invest in communities affected by the so-called drug warfare.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021, also known as the MORE Act, which would also remove criminal penalties, transparent criminal records and make social equity plans focused on fixing damage to individuals and communities impacted by years of prohibition.

“As I introduced the MORE Act Congress, many states around the nation, including my home state of New York, have proceeded to legalize marijuana,” Nadler said in an statement. “Our federal laws need to maintain this pace.”

A second Senate bill is expected to be released later this year with the backing of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

The revised bill comprises stronger social justice steps intended to deal with the generational effects of prohibition, including eliminating language which would have denied business licenses to applicants who have felony convictions.

It would place a 5 percent tax on cannabis retail sales that would increase to 8 per cent over three years. Revenue would go to the Opportunity Trust Fund, that would pay for job coaching, re-entry services, legal aid and health education programs for impacted communities.

In addition, it would create an Office of Cannabis Justice to manage social equity parts, stop the federal government from punishing cannabis users who rely on social services and open the door to more research opportunities.

The Small Business Administration will launch the Cannabis Restorative Opportunity Program to help companies owned and operated by”socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.” The SBA mandate would develop and implement equitable cannabis licensing applications which minimize obstacles for people negatively affected from the drug war.

“The whole intention and vision behind this bill is that it would repair past harms of drug prohibition,” said Maritza Perez, national events manager in the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit working to reform drug laws. “We’re expecting that another successful House vote would continue to pile on momentum.”

Regardless of the move toward decriminalization, people of color continue to be most affected by existing drug legislation. In accordance with a 2020 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, a Black man is 3 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than a white person. The ACLU estimated that enforcing cannabis prohibition legislation costs taxpayers approximately $3.6 billion annually.

“This bill provides a good deal of individuals a fresh start,” said Stuart Titus, CEO of cannabis firm Medical Marijuana Inc..

However, it may have a”herculean effort” to progress cannabis legislation, Titus stated, adding that Democrats will need to pick up more Republican support should they mean to finish prohibition.

December’s vote has been the first time a complete chamber of Congress took up the issue of federally decriminalizing cannabis. Of the vote count, 222 Democrats have been in favor of passing the MORE Act and six were against it. Five Republicans voted in favor of this and 158 voted against passing it.

Maggie Shannon / for NBC News

“It has historic implications,” Titus said. “We have an entire industry here ready to boom.”

In 2020, legal cannabis sales exceeding $20 million and are projected to more than double by 2025, according to the bill.

For nearly a decade, the government has relied upon a uneasy truce with countries that decided to carve their own cannabis legislation.

The tension between state and federal law has contributed to confusion over exactly what rights cannabis users need to get and use marijuana.

Narmin Jarrous, chief advancement officer for Exclusive Brands, a cannabis firm based in Michigan, stated her primary care doctor recently dropped her after she tested positive for marijuana. Jarrous lives with chronic pain caused by endometriosis and prefers marijuana to harsher pain control medications, like Vicodin and oxycodone.

“If it’s occurring to meI am aware that it’s occurring to [additional ] sufferers,” she said. “It was such an absurd plan, in my view, and it only shows how much effort we have to do as a society.”


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