Decriminalize Marijuana, Expunge Convictions, and Reinvest in Communities Most Adversely Impacted by the War on Drugs
How to Support H.R. 3884: The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019
We have seen support for cannabis reform at the highest levels of our government gain incredible amounts of traction over the past year but, as we have written before, full-scale federal cannabis legalization is likely still years away. This is not a bad thing, nor is it an excuse to sit back and wait for something to happen. Though we have all been fought for decades for this moment in history, our best bet at achieving an appealing and sustainable nationwide cannabis market is to build it now, piece by piece, by earning the support of Senators and members of Congress who are intrigued by the cannabis plant and want to learn more.
So far, California with the 5th largest economy on the planet, has failed to provide a template or business model for legal adult-use cannabis that would work across all 50 states. Rather than copycatting such rushed regulations that would then forever rely on bipartisanship in the Congress to fix any flaws in the future, a strategic layering of sensible legislation starting now will form a foundation for America’s inevitable end of cannabis prohibition – and here is how it begins.
To clarify, this effort is already well underway and, as usual, our nation’s military veterans are leading the charge. Nobody on our crew served in the military, but we all stand by our nation’s vets and we’re honored to work alongside Veterans Cannabis Coalition to help spread their message and accomplish their goals.
Many people in our country have been and continue to be negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition and our vets are an infuriating example. The lack of access that they are given to legal medical marijuana is shameful, yet groups like VCC continue to take point on the mission to free the cannabis plant for all Americans and right now they need our support.
There are several much needed, make-sense, cannabis-related bills currently being deliberated by the U.S. Congress but, so far, no cannabis bill has made it to the floor for a vote.
Among the most publicized is the SAFE Banking Act of 2019 which has 206 co-sponsors in the House and would allow cannabis-related companies who are doing legal business under their state laws to finally be allowed to utilize the services of federally regulated and insured banks. If it were easier to obtain financing, more mom & pop legacy operators could get into legal cannabis markets instead of only big-money investor-backed corporations dominating them. That is just one of many reasons why passing this bill is long overdue and only makes sense. Like the rest of them, however, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is holding it back from a full floor vote and we think we know why.
H.R. 3884 – The MORE Act
House Resolution 3884 – The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 – was introduced on July 23rd of this year by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) who happens to hold the influential role of Chairman on the Judiciary and has proven to be an open ear for cannabis advocates.
The MORE Act, when passed, will provide a necessary plank in the foundation of whatever is to come of nationwide legal cannabis by federally decriminalizing the plant from the top down, expunging millions of past cannabis convictions from coast to coast, and mandating a reinvestment in the communities that have been most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
The real trigger language in the MORE Act is that it would completely remove the cannabis plant from the Controlled Substances Act, instantly freeing it from the burden of so many layers of federal oversight, and likely opening the floodgates for the full floor vote and passage of the SAFE Act and so many other pieces of stalled legislation.
We are calling on everyone in our vast network who shares our commitment to equal access, social equity, and working to make right what has been so wrong for so long.
Our loud support for the MORE Act can begin to correct the historical and continued injustices concerning our cannabis laws that have disproportionately impacted cannabis consumers, forgotten communities, and particularly, people of color.
The MORE Act, as written, would:
Decriminalize cannabis at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act
This would apply retroactively to prior and pending convictions nationwide, but still enables states to set their own policies
Require federal courts to expunge cannabis-related arrests and convictions and resentence those still in custody or under court supervision for a cannabis-related offense, pursuant to a judicial review process
Ensure that cannabis is no longer considered a controlled substance for purposes of the immigration laws—and does so retroactively
Ensure that all benefits in the law are available to juvenile offenders
Provide non-discrimination protections for cannabis use or possession and for prior convictions for a cannabis-related offense.
Authorize the assessment of a 5% excise tax on sales of cannabis and cannabis-related products to fund programs to provide services to individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including reentry services and substance use treatment
Open up opportunities for loans to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and would require states to implement equitable cannabis licensing programs
Open up Small Business Administration resources for all legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers
Require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure equitable participation
Our friends at Veterans Cannabis Coalition summarize it best, stating, “This bill would strike at the heart of cannabis prohibition—a racist and unscientific government institution that has harmed millions of Americans over nearly five generations. Removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, coupled with federal expungement, resentencing, and the additional reinvestment provisions, would go a long way to undoing the damage of more than 80 years of coercive and violent government actions aimed at people using a beneficial plant.”
HR 3884 is quickly gaining co-sponsor backing from Rep. Nadler’s colleagues in the Congress, and the following organizations have signed on with their support: ACLU, Beard Bros. Pharms, California Minority Alliance, Center for American Progress, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Sentencing Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, UndocuBlack Network, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and 4thMVMT. . . to name a few.
Can we add you to that list?
RIGHT NOW is the ideal time to let your local lawmakers know that you support HR 3884 and that you expect them to do so as well.
It should not take having an issue impact you personally for you to pay attention to it. Even if you have never been hurt by the war on weed, even if you don’t know anyone who has, your voice is still needed in this effort.
We’ll let Veterans Cannabis Coalition wrap it up:
“In supporting the MORE Act, we are supporting a long overdue reckoning with basic facts, especially the fact that no government—from local municipalities to Congress—has any legitimate claim in restricting a person’s basic right to self-care.”