October 5, 2020 10:54 am ETEstimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, commonly known as the MORE Act could change the landscape regarding cannabis in the United States. This act, which was introduced some time ago, has received substantial support throughout the cannabis community as well as by political leaders of both parties. This much-needed piece of legislation that would reform cannabis, unlike any other piece of legislation has done at the federal level in the past with the exception of the one that made it illegal in the first place, was supposed to receive a vote this month by the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, today, it became evident that this much-anticipated vote on HR 3884 will be postponed.
Why the MORE Act is So Important
The MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, essentially decriminalizing it at the federal level. It would also facilitate the expungement of minor cannabis-related charges as well as provide incentives to state and local governments to proactively do the same. If passed, the act would also remove the threat of deportation for immigrants within the United States and allow veterans the opportunity to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from doctors at VA Hospitals, something that they currently cannot do even in states with legal, medical markets. This bill even goes an extra step to create opportunities for ownership of businesses within the cannabis industry for minority entrepreneurs as well as many other vital changes regarding this plant and its legality at the federal level.
Overwhelming Support Exists
According to Justin Strekal the Political Director for the nationally acclaimed cannabis activist group NORML;
“This delay by the House does not change the fact that the overwhelming majority of voters support ending the federal prohibition of cannabis, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.”
Information from dataforprogress.org released earlier this year 80% of democrats support fully legalizing cannabis nationally. According to data from the Pew Research Center from November of last year overall 67% of American voters believe that cannabis should be made legal with 78% of Democrats showing their support and 55% of Republicans stating they would also vote yes. A Gallup poll from October 2019 showed similar results with 66% of voters supporting federal cannabis legalization with 76% of democrats showing support and 51% of republicans.
MORE is Supported by More Than Patients and Activists
Support for the MORE Act isn’t just coming from the voters but also from health professionals, advocacy and activist groups, national human rights organizations, and many others. Letters to members of the House have been sent from various organizations including the Law Enforcement Action Partnership commonly known as LEAP, the Drug Policy Alliance, the NAACP, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Women, and many others urging lawmakers to support this legislation.
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Why This Legislation Is Dire
The need for cannabis reform at the federal level extends much further than just eliminating the criminal aspect of those who choose to consume this plant be it for recreational or medical purposes. According to a report recently released by the ACLU, Black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for cannabis in comparison to Caucasian Americans.
According to the FBI, despite many states having legal markets, more than 660,000 Americans were arrested for cannabis-related crimes in 2018 alone. Meanwhile, state-legal cannabis industries across the United States employ more than 243,000 full-time workers. It is time that a federal change to cannabis law occurs and we had that chance this month with the MORE Act but unfortunately, the powers that be had other plans and the much-anticipated vote has been postponed.
Why the Delay and is There Still Hope?
According to NORML per their most recent newsletter, the delay in the roll-call was “not substantive about the legislation itself. Rather, they were a result of the political uncertainties and division that have consistently plagued Congress in the wake of the Senate and White House’s refusal to work with House Democrats to pass another round of COVID economic relief. It is expected that the vote will be rescheduled in November.”
What You Can Do to Help the MORE Act Succeed When the Time Comes
While it is unfortunate that a vote on this monumental legislation has been delayed, it allows us time as advocates to reach out to our leaders in the House and urge them to support this legislation when the time comes. We encourage you to contact your representatives today! Remember to keep it short, factual, and cordial. Through constructive dialogue and persistence we can help produce a victory for cannabis at the federal level in the years to come, so what are you waiting for? Contact your representative and have your voice heard regarding the MORE Act and what it means for the citizens and patients of the United States.
Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist that fights to end prohibition globally for a better future for all. Ashley has a passion for sharing education pertaining to the goddess plant known as cannabis. She believes that a single seed can tip the scales and that together through education we can end the stigma that is preventing cannabis from flowering to its full potential globally.
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