The House has passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (H.R. 3884, also known as the MORE Act) by a vote of 228-164, including yes votes from five Republicans and one Independent. This vote marks the first time either chamber of Congress has passed legislation addressing the federal scheduling of cannabis since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970s. The MORE Act removes cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Descheduling removes federal criminal penalties and would make the application of Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code void for cannabis businesses.
This bill’s primary focus is on racial and social justice as it will provide mechanisms for the expungement of federal non-violent cannabis offenses, allows those awaiting sentences to petition courts for reconsideration, and creates a new office of Cannabis Justice within the Department of Justice. This office will oversee a trust fund that will direct revenue to job training, health education, re-entry services, legal aid, youth mentoring programs and substance treatment programs. This trust fund will be funded by a graduated excise tax on cannabis which starts at 5% the first year and graduates to 8%, at which point the taxation structure switches to a per weight or THC content basis. The bill allows for Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
Additionally, the MORE Act prevents federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances for cannabis use unless for security sensitive positions with the Department of Transportation and the Coast Guard. The bill further removes cannabis related conduct from the list of deportable offenses.
Lastly, this bill calls for several studies including one run through the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the cannabis industry demographics, and whether the bill is appropriately serving those impacted by the War on Drugs.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where its passage is unlikely this Congress.
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