The MORE Act to Decriminalize Cannabis Advanced One Step Further

It’s been a long time coming, right? This wait for federal cannabis reform. To show the tides are turning, the MORE Act, which would decriminalize cannabis, advanced one step further in Congress, bringing the US that much closer to a federal decriminalization policy. Can this bill go through?

If the MORE Act does decriminalize cannabis, the USA will be an entirely different place. But even if it doesn’t there’s still a huge selection of cannabis products, like delta-8 THC, and a number of other minor cannabinoids. This is great for everyone, especially users who prefer slightly less high, and less associated anxiety. In fact, we’ve got great deals for delta-8 THC, and many other products, so stop by, and take a look at the options we’ve got for you.

Cannabis in the US of A

Most of us know the basics, but before getting into the changes that are coming, it’s best to go over where we currently stand. Cannabis, in the United States is illegal for both medical and recreational purposes. Cannabis used to be an important aspect of American life, with hemp grown for all kinds of industrial uses, and cannabis being found in tons of medical (and non-medical) products. By the beginning of the 1900’s, the one thing cannabis wasn’t used for as much, was getting high.

Getting into the story of marijuana illegalization is certainly controversial. While some will stick to the government story line of cannabis being dangerous and in need of eradication, the other story involves different factors, like pharmaceutical companies that didn’t want to compete with a plant that could be easily grown by the people themselves, or a paper industry that saw hemp paper as competition, or a chemicals industry that felt likewise about it. When it comes to the illegalization of cannabis, these two stories run counter, but regardless of why it happened, this was the outcome.

In 1937 the Marihuana Tax Act was passed which placed massive taxes and restrictions on marijuana, making it nearly impossible to either research it, without express permission, or use personally. This wasn’t a full illegalization though. Different laws were passed over the years, leading to cannabis being put in Schedule I of the DEA’s Controlled Substances list, with the advent of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. This made all uses of it illegal, with the plant seen as having no medicinal value, whatsoever.

decriminalize marijuana

Federal vs state

Obviously, this isn’t the end of the story, as cannabis is not regulated through the constitution, giving individual states the ability to create their own laws. Not only do many states have decriminalization measures, many stemming from the 70’s when cannabis was first completely illegalized, but the majority have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, and 18 (including two of the most populous states: New York and California), allow legal recreational use, essentially 100% going against the US government.

For those who have been paying attention over the years, this has caused many problems. In the earlier days of medicinal legalizations, the federal government still targeted users, often subjecting them to criminal punishments, though they weren’t breaking state laws. It’s even seen today still. The DEA just announced intentions to expand legal cannabis cultivation in the country, but with caveats that will likely keep former cannabis cultivators who have worked legally by their own state’s laws, from having a chance to participate, since the federal government still considers their past work as criminal activity.

For the most part these attacks have lightened over the years. I expect because there’ve been too many states going against federal regulation for the US to continue attempting to punish people. And with so many states essentially flipping the bird to federal law, it’s also not surprising that the federal government has been scrambling to change directions. This is likely to save face in this changing climate of weed acceptance, where the population has been steadily, and uncompromisingly, going in the opposite direction to federal mandate.

What is the MORE act, and will it decriminalize cannabis?

The first thing to understand about the MORE act (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act), or HR 3617, is that it isn’t a legalization measure at all, but is meant to federally decriminalize cannabis. It would officially de-schedule cannabis out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances list, and seemingly off of it entirely. This would officially take away criminal penalties for certain crimes. Under the law, individual states could continue to make their own decisions concerning full legalizations in their own domains.

The bill takes a complete 180 degree turn from current policy, essentially saying that cannabis is no longer dangerous, and that it has medical value. In fact, it’s practically a legalization. This is backed up by the fact that the bill would introduce a 5% tax on cannabis products. Usually when the government expects for something not to be sold, it doesn’t attach a tax to it. After all, it means the government fully accepts retail sales if its setting up a system to regulate taxes for it. So though this bill works to decriminalize cannabis, it also clearly promotes its legal sale (and therefore use) by way of setting a taxation amount.

The tax from the products would go to fund projects for criminal and social reform, and would eventually rise to 8% from 5%. Tax money would be distributed by a newly formed agency called the Office of Cannabis Justice, which would reside within the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. At least some of the money would be used for grants intended toward communities hard hit by the war on drugs.

MORE Act

Along with this, it would prevent benefits like public housing, or other federal benefits, to be denied to those who have been found guilty of cannabis crimes. It would also keep simple possession or use acts from causing an impact under immigration laws. The new law would do what most legalization bills do, it would expunge past convictions of those who have been found guilty of relevant cannabis crimes. This means, if a person served time for cannabis, or received any kind of relevant conviction, they will no longer have to state this, as it will no longer apply. Those currently under active convictions would be able to petition the courts for a resentencing.

Another aspect of the MORE act is that it would allow marijuana businesses to apply for, and receive, small business administration loans, as well as other banking services and insurance. These are things that have been repeatedly denied to cannabis companies due to federal regulation against the drug.

The MORE act was originally introduced in 2019, and it officially passed the US House of Representatives on December 4th, 2020. This is the first time a part of congress has approved a bill that’s meant to end cannabis prohibition laws. It didn’t have time to go through the Senate though, and therefore had to be reintroduced in 2021. In order to become law, it must pass a final vote in the House – again, as well as make it through a full Senate. The MORE Act has 76 co-sponsors, one of whom is republican.

MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis gets one step further

On September 30th, 2021, the House Judiciary Committee voted on the bill, and passed it by a vote of 26-15. The House Judiciary Committee is chaired by Jerrold Nadler, who is also a co-sponsor of the MORE Act. Though the vote went mainly by party lines with all 26 democrats voting in favor, they were joined by two republicans, while 15 voted no.

As stated before, this bill passed the House in 2020 in a vote of 228-165, but since the Senate never got to it, it couldn’t be passed fully. When a new congress took their seats in January, the whole process actually started from scratch with the reintroduction of the bill. This means that though the same bill was passed in the House already, it will need to repass it again to continue.

The House Judiciary Committee, upon passing the bill, referred the bill for a vote by the entire House once again. As it passed by large margins the last time, it is expected to do okay again, even with a different configuration of congressmen due to the results of the 2020 elections. The much bigger obstacle is for it to get through the Senate. Once it passes the House again, that conversation can begin.

cannabis reform

Will the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis pass?

This is an interesting question, and it can really go either way. It’s not shocking to understand that much of government is still going to be against such a decriminalization, especially those with more conservative mindsets. However, there’s a growing and undeniable reality about all this. Nearly every state has some sort of decriminalization, medical, or recreational policy, even if only a minor one. And the news is constantly filled with mentions of new states pushing through comprehensive medical bills, or full-on recreational ones. About half the country is already living in recreational locations.

The US government weakens itself by allowing this, and since it can’t stop it, or reverse it, or bully it, or arrest it, or even lie about it anymore, it must change tack if it wants to save face. And ultimately, this is non-negotiable. The US can’t have a federal mandate that no state will follow, so the question of ‘will a decriminalization measure or legalization measure go through soon’, has the very easy answer of ‘yes, because it has to.’

Having said that, though the walls are certainly closing in, it could be the next one and not this one. While I expect things can’t go on this way for more than another year tops, it doesn’t mean it has to be this particular bill. I do, however, think the MORE Act has a great chance of passing, even if just because of the timing.

To give an idea of how much the government does understand this, there are now states like North Carolina, where republicans are pushing legalization measures. Not because they agree, but simply because they understand that it’s what their constituents want, and that if they want to keep their seats, this is the new deal.

There is even yet another bill making the rounds in Congress, this one an actual legalization measure. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and seeks to go a step further by legalizing cannabis and instituting a federal market for it. This is more extreme, making the MORE Act slightly more likely between the two, in my estimation. That a bill has to pass soon is a fact of US federal power and control, but chances are it will be a less aggressive one. Competition between the two bills could even cause problems, though they technically do different things, and could potentially both be passed.

Conclusion

This is certainly an exciting time in the world of weed. The MORE Act might just be the ticket to federal cannabis decriminalization, and the end to restrictive and silly prohibition laws. The one thing we can be almost certain of, is that a bill of this nature will pass soon. However, for now, we’ll have to carefully watch progress to see the fate of HR 3617.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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House Committee Approves the MORE Act to Legalize Cannabis

Members of a House of Representatives legislative committee voted on Thursday to advance a bill that would legalize marijuana at the federal level and allow states to set their own cannabis policies. The legislation, known as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 26 to 15 following several attempts to amend the bill.

Under the MORE Act, cannabis would be removed from the list of drugs regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, criminal penalties for federal cannabis offenses would be eliminated, and past federal cannabis convictions would be expunged. The bill, H.R. 3617, also establishes a tax on retail cannabis sales, with revenue raised by the tax invested in communities that were harmed under federal marijuana prohibition policies.

In his opening remarks on Thursday, Democratic committee chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said that the “long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana.”

“It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color,” he continued. “I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.”

The MORE Act Includes Social Equity Provisions

To address the harms caused by marijuana prohibition, an Opportunity Trust Fund created by the MORE Act would provide job training, re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals, and health education programs for communities impacted by the War on Drugs. The bill also establishes an Office of Cannabis Justice to implement the social equity provisions of the bill, encourage cannabis research, and ensure that federal benefits and services are not denied cannabis users. The Small Business Association would be responsible for creating a Cannabis Restorative Opportunity Program to develop cannabis licensing programs that limit barriers to participation in the industry.

After Thursday’s vote, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) political director Justin Strekal called on Democratic leaders to swiftly bring the MORE Act up for a vote by the full House of Representatives.

“Never before has public support from every corner of the political spectrum been so aligned as to demand that Congress take action to end the shameful experiment with marijuana prohibition,” Strekal said in a press release from the reform group. “The continued criminalization of marijuana by the federal government is an affront to our professed ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice. By advancing the MORE Act, the House will demonstrate that the majority of our political leaders are ready to correct this injustice and enact cannabis policy reform that undoes the harms that have been inflicted upon millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens.”

Bill Approved By Bipartisan Vote

The vote to advance the MORE Act in the Judiciary Committee was 26 to 15, receiving support from 2 Republicans and all 24 Democrats on the panel while the remaining 15 Republicans voted against the legislation. The vote followed several attempts to amend the proposal, including one from Republican Rep. Thomas Massie that would have removed taxation and social equity grants from the cannabis legalization proposal. Another failed amendment would have denied justice reform grants to those convicted of rioting, looting, or destruction of property.

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a cosponsor of the legislation, was one of the two Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to vote for the bill, although he also expressed reservations over the tax provisions in the measure.

“I am a proud co-sponsor of the MORE Act because the federal government has screwed up marijuana policy in this country for a generation,” Gaetz said. “We lied to people about the effects of marijuana. And then we used marijuana as a cudgel to incarcerate just wide swathes of communities, and particularly in African American communities.”

Gaetz, however, said that he believes the MORE Act has little chance of passage in the U.S. Senate and suggested lawmakers draft more modest cannabis legislation. A separate measure that would allow cannabis businesses in states with legal marijuana to access financial services, the SAFE Banking Act, was approved by the full House of Representatives on Sept. 23 as part of defense spending authorization bill.

But some Democratic senators including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Oregon’s Sen. Ron Wyden have expressed reservations over passing a bill to protect the financial interests of cannabis businesses before broader reform such as the MORE Act is signed into law. In a podcast released on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Drug Policy Alliance founder that he had reached an agreement with his colleagues to not let banking legislation advance before wider cannabis legalization.

“Senators Booker, Wyden and I have come to agreement that if we let [the banking bill] out, it’ll make it much harder and take longer to pass comprehensive reform,” Schumer said. “We certainly want the provisions, similar to the SAFE Banking Act, in our bill. But to get more moderate people—to get some Republicans, to get the financial services industry—behind a comprehensive bill is the way to go. It’s the right thing to do.”

The post House Committee Approves the MORE Act to Legalize Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

House Committee Approves the MORE Act to Legalize Cannabis

Members of a House of Representatives legislative committee voted on Thursday to advance a bill that would legalize marijuana at the federal level and allow states to set their own cannabis policies. The legislation, known as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 26 to 15 following several attempts to amend the bill.

Under the MORE Act, cannabis would be removed from the list of drugs regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, criminal penalties for federal cannabis offenses would be eliminated, and past federal cannabis convictions would be expunged. The bill, H.R. 3617, also establishes a tax on retail cannabis sales, with revenue raised by the tax invested in communities that were harmed under federal marijuana prohibition policies.

In his opening remarks on Thursday, Democratic committee chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said that the “long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana.”

“It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color,” he continued. “I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.”

The MORE Act Includes Social Equity Provisions

To address the harms caused by marijuana prohibition, an Opportunity Trust Fund created by the MORE Act would provide job training, re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals, and health education programs for communities impacted by the War on Drugs. The bill also establishes an Office of Cannabis Justice to implement the social equity provisions of the bill, encourage cannabis research, and ensure that federal benefits and services are not denied cannabis users. The Small Business Association would be responsible for creating a Cannabis Restorative Opportunity Program to develop cannabis licensing programs that limit barriers to participation in the industry.

After Thursday’s vote, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) political director Justin Strekal called on Democratic leaders to swiftly bring the MORE Act up for a vote by the full House of Representatives.

“Never before has public support from every corner of the political spectrum been so aligned as to demand that Congress take action to end the shameful experiment with marijuana prohibition,” Strekal said in a press release from the reform group. “The continued criminalization of marijuana by the federal government is an affront to our professed ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice. By advancing the MORE Act, the House will demonstrate that the majority of our political leaders are ready to correct this injustice and enact cannabis policy reform that undoes the harms that have been inflicted upon millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens.”

Bill Approved By Bipartisan Vote

The vote to advance the MORE Act in the Judiciary Committee was 26 to 15, receiving support from 2 Republicans and all 24 Democrats on the panel while the remaining 15 Republicans voted against the legislation. The vote followed several attempts to amend the proposal, including one from Republican Rep. Thomas Massie that would have removed taxation and social equity grants from the cannabis legalization proposal. Another failed amendment would have denied justice reform grants to those convicted of rioting, looting, or destruction of property.

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a cosponsor of the legislation, was one of the two Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to vote for the bill, although he also expressed reservations over the tax provisions in the measure.

“I am a proud co-sponsor of the MORE Act because the federal government has screwed up marijuana policy in this country for a generation,” Gaetz said. “We lied to people about the effects of marijuana. And then we used marijuana as a cudgel to incarcerate just wide swathes of communities, and particularly in African American communities.”

Gaetz, however, said that he believes the MORE Act has little chance of passage in the U.S. Senate and suggested lawmakers draft more modest cannabis legislation. A separate measure that would allow cannabis businesses in states with legal marijuana to access financial services, the SAFE Banking Act, was approved by the full House of Representatives on Sept. 23 as part of defense spending authorization bill.

But some Democratic senators including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Oregon’s Sen. Ron Wyden have expressed reservations over passing a bill to protect the financial interests of cannabis businesses before broader reform such as the MORE Act is signed into law. In a podcast released on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Drug Policy Alliance founder that he had reached an agreement with his colleagues to not let banking legislation advance before wider cannabis legalization.

“Senators Booker, Wyden and I have come to agreement that if we let [the banking bill] out, it’ll make it much harder and take longer to pass comprehensive reform,” Schumer said. “We certainly want the provisions, similar to the SAFE Banking Act, in our bill. But to get more moderate people—to get some Republicans, to get the financial services industry—behind a comprehensive bill is the way to go. It’s the right thing to do.”

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The MORE Act Aims to Legalize Cannabis

The drive to legalize cannabis at the federal level continues with the reintroduction of a bill to remove marijuana from the nation’s list of controlled substances and invest in communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. The measure, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), was introduced on May 28 by Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York and five of his Democratic colleagues.

Nadler, who serves as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, originally introduced the bill last year. The measure was passed with overwhelming support in the House in December but failed to receive action in the Senate under the leadership of then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“Since I introduced the MORE Act last Congress, numerous states across the nation, including my home state of New York, have moved to legalize marijuana. Our federal laws must keep up with this pace,” Nadler said in a statement. “I’m proud to reintroduce the MORE Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.”

Social Equity Key to Bill

Under the MORE Act, cannabis would be removed from the list of drugs regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, criminal penalties for federal cannabis offenses would be eliminated, and past federal cannabis convictions would be expunged. The bill also establishes a 5% percent tax on retail cannabis sales, which would climb to 8% over three years. Revenue raised by the tax would be invested in communities that were harmed under federal marijuana prohibition policies that lasted decades.

“This bill will not only put an end to harmful federal cannabis policies that have ruined countless lives, it will seek to reverse the damage by providing true equity and opportunity for those looking to access this booming industry. We are on our way toward true justice,” said Rep. Barbara Lee of California, a co-sponsor of the legislation and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

An Opportunity Trust Fund created by the MORE Act would provide job training, re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals, and health education programs for communities impacted by the War on Drugs. In a change to the previous version of the bill called for by social equity advocates, those with prior felony convictions would no longer be barred from participation in the cannabis industry.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York said that the “failed war on drugs began almost fifty years ago when Richard Nixon declared drug abuse public enemy number one. Since then, marijuana use has been socially accepted behavior in some neighborhoods and criminal conduct in others. Too often, the dividing line between these neighborhoods has been race. The MORE Act will help right these wrongs and bring to life the principle of liberty and justice for all.”

Additionally, an Office of Cannabis Justice would be established to implement the social equity provisions of the bill, encourage cannabis research, and ensure that federal benefits and services are not denied cannabis users. The Small Business Association would be tasked with creating a Cannabis Restorative Opportunity Program to develop cannabis licensing programs that limit barriers to participation in the industry.

Amazon on Board 

Following the reintroduction of the MORE Act, Amazon, the nation’s second-largest private employer, announced that it was eliminating cannabis drug testing for applicants for most of its U.S. jobs. Amazon CEO Dave Clark said in a blog post that the company would also lobby for passage of legislation to end the federal prohibition of cannabis.

“And because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) — federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities,” Clark wrote. “We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.”

Nadler’s bill also has the support of cannabis policy reform advocacy organizations, including the Marijuana Policy Project. Tahir Johnson, the group’s director of social equity and inclusion, commented on the impact that cannabis prohibition has had on communities of color.

“Cannabis prohibition and its ensuing over-policing, unequal enforcement, and criminalization stripped millions of Black and Latinx people of their vote, access to education, employment, and housing, creating cycles of poverty and marginalization in their communities,” Johnson said. “The MORE Act promises to address many of the harms caused by prohibition using an equity and justice-centered framework that allows the communities most harmed to access the health and economic benefits of the cannabis industry. This is the approach to legalization that our country needs.”

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The MORE Act – Will Cannabis Be Legalized Federally This Month?

On Friday, May 28, 2021, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was reintroduced in the U.S. congress. Back in December 2020, it passed the House of Representatives but didn’t advance in the Senate. This year, with a new senate majority leader, the cannabis industry is more hopeful and numerous organizations and advocacy groups are pushing for another vote by the end of June. Will cannabis become legal in the U.S. this month?

Cannabis laws are constantly changing. Although legalization is the ultimate goal, there are many legislative steps we must take in order to get there. To learn more about the MORE act and other regulations, make sure to subscribe to the CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter – your source for all the most up-to-date cannabis information, as well as access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products.

What is The MORE Act?

One of the most important things to remember with the MORE Act is that it will NOT legalize cannabis. If passed, H.B. 3884 would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis from its current position as a schedule 1 narcotic. For a drug to listed under schedule 1 of the controlled substances act, it needs to meet the following criteria: no currently accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.

In case you were wondering how absolutely asinine the drug schedules are, consider the fact that cannabis and magic mushrooms are categorized as schedule 1, which is reserved for the most dangerous drugs, whereas cocaine and methamphetamine are listed as schedule 2. Other drugs like codeine, ketamine, and steroids are schedule 3. So, since we know that cannabis has many therapeutic uses, and it’s not dangerous nor is it addictive, removing it from the list of schedule 1 narcotics is a very welcomed change.

Also, take note that decriminalization is very different from full legalization, but I’ll cover more on that later. For now, let’s take a look at the most important points of the bill. First and foremost, the bill intends to address various social justice issues that have been plaguing the cannabis industry for decades. For example, the MORE act would establish a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses.

People with felony cannabis convictions will no longer be barred from obtaining business permits. The Small Business Administration would establish the Cannabis Restorative Opportunity Program, which would provide any necessary aid to businesses owned and operated by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.” Additionally, this bill would prevent the federal government from denying benefits and social services to cannabis users, as has been the case in the past.

The MORE Act would also impose a 5% tax on all cannabis products, and the revenue would be deposited into a trust fund that would support various programs and services for individuals and businesses that have been most impacted by the war on the drugs. According to a 2020 report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), people of color are three times more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for cannabis possession than white people. The ACLU estimates that taxpayers pay approximately $3.6 billion each year on the enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws.

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

Decriminalization vs Legalization

The terms “decriminalization” and “legalization” are often used interchangeably, but they are very different. The ultimate goal is full legalization of cannabis, or the act of removing most legal prohibitions against it (age restrictions would still apply, like with tobacco and alcohol sales). If cannabis is completely legalized, individuals found selling or possessing it for personal use will not be subject to criminal OR civil penalties.

On the other hand, cannabis decriminalization would mean that it is still federally illegal, but criminal penalties would not be enforced. Instead, users would face civil penalties such as fines and forced rehabilitation. Records may be kept in a local tribunal, but they will not affect employment, housing, or travel opportunities. If an individual is court-ordered into a rehab program, and they chose not to attend, it’s possible that criminal penalties would be imposed at that point.

Decriminalization is a completely pointless step in between prohibition and legalization that allows for too much “interpretation” of the law. For example, in a decriminalized state, a police officer can take your cannabis, fine you, and send you to court where your case will end up getting thrown out if it meets the criteria of a legal decriminalized amount. So, you’re out the money you spent on flower that remains confiscated, the city doesn’t get any additional money from you because the case is tossed out in court, and the entire ordeal is a mega waste of time for everyone involved.

Marijuana/marihuana vs Cannabis

One more thing that I did not mention above is that the MORE ACT will change up the lingo we’re currently familiar with. Statutory references to marijuana and marihuana would be officially replaced with the word “cannabis”. To some, this may seem pointless (and ironic considering the name of the bill still uses the word “marijuana”), but it is a significant change.  

Now remember, the word for the entire plant and all of its parts is Cannabis. For legal purposes, marijuana is used to describe cannabis with more than 0.3% THC and hemp is used to describe cannabis with less than 0.3% THC. From this point, Cannabis can be broken down into three additional subtypes: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These subtypes can apply to both marijuana and hemp. This vocabulary is the most common way to differentiate between cannabis types at the regulatory cutoff point. However, the word itself, “marijuana“ (or “marihuana” as the government likes to call it), is a loaded one historically.

Before 1910, the word “marijuana: did not exist in American culture. Instead, “Cannabis” was used when discussing the plant as a medicinal remedy. Back then, Bristol-Meyer’s Squib, Eli Lilly, and other current pharmaceutical giants used to include cannabis extracts, and sometimes even whole plant matter, in their medicine formulations. After 1910, the United States started getting an influx of legal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, who were seeking refuge post-war. It was during that time that the idea of smoking cannabis recreationally was becoming ingrained within the American mainstream culture. Up until then, it was used mostly therapeutically.

Fast forward to the 1930s, when Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the newly established Federal Bureau of Narcotics, launched his war against “marijuana”. Although “cannabis” has been part of United States history since the very beginning, “marijuana” was viewed as this new dangerous substance that lurked in the shadows of America’s counterculture. If there was one thing Anslinger was good at, it was without a doubt, media manipulation. During his numerous public appearances, some of which were to promote his trademark film Reefer Madness, Anslinger made sure to use the term “marijuana”, to keep people from making that connection with medicinal cannabis.

To sum it up, the word itself is not racist, it’s actually Spanish. But the word “marijuana” was adopted by a racist individual who used it alongside targeted fear mongering and prejudice against Hispanic immigrants, as the central focus of his campaign against the Cannabis plant. Today, the industry is taking the word back, using it in a professional manner that’s more rooted in science, not politics. However, until now, all government documents that discussed cannabis in any form have been referring to it as “marihuana”, which incorrect and incredibly outdated.

Taxation of Illegal Goods in the United States

Another confusing point for many people is probably the 5% tax. If a product is decriminalized, it’s still technically illegal, and how can you tax an illegal product? While that may sound like a catch 22, in the United States it is actually very common to tax illegal goods, services, and other enterprises.

Taxation of illegal income in the United States arises from the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), enacted by the U.S. Congress mainly for the purpose of taxing net income. As such, all taxable income will be subject to the same Federal income tax rules, regardless of whether the income was obtained legally or illegally. So basically, the government cares less about what you’re doing if you make sure to give them a cut of the money you’re making.

One interesting example of this would be drug tax stamps. Say you go out and buy some meth from your local dealer, your next move would likely be to go home and consume it, but according to the government, you should first pay taxes on your illegal purchase. In case you’re wondering how, it’s quite simple. All you need to do is go to your state’s Department of Revenue website and purchase your prepaid drug tax stamps (the government says it’s completely anonymous but I’m honestly not sure if I trust that), which serve as proof of your tax payment.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not very common for people to actually pay these taxes voluntarily. As of now, only 17 states are still imposing the stamps. However, in those states, if you get arrested for drug possession, you will likely face harsher civil or criminal penalties for “tax evasion”, and you might get stuck paying double what you would have paid if you did it up front.

This probably sounds like a way for the greedy government to get extra money, and it is. But on the flipside, people paying taxes on their ill-gotten gains are also eligible to claim deductions for any “ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on a trade or business,” as stated in section 162(a) of the Securities Act of 1933. Yeah, our government is pretty strange.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, it seems unlikely that the MORE Act will pass as it is currently written. It’s very likely that Senate republicans may use the filibuster to block this bill. Many conservatives have expressed concern over some of the language in this bill, stating that it is not as economically-oriented as they would like it to be, and that it lacks provisions for veteran business owners. Although it seems largely symbolic, the MORE act is still being hailed as positive step for cannabis reform.

“Since I introduced the MORE Act last Congress, numerous states across the nation, including my home state of New York, have moved to legalize marijuana,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. “Our federal laws must keep up with this pace.”

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Chuck Schumer Lists Marijuana As A Priority In First Post-Election Cannabis Comments (Marijuana Moment)

// Massachusetts city drops onerous ‘impact fee’ on cannabis businesses (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Top New York Official Responds To Marijuana Advocates’ Criticism Of Governor’s Legalization Plan (Marijuana Moment)


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// New Mexico Governor Pushes For Marijuana Legalization In State Of The State Address (Marijuana Moment)

// Police In New Jersey’s Largest City Continue Marijuana Arrests At Pre-Legalization Rate (Marijuana Moment)

// Maine labs receive go-ahead to start testing adult-use cannabis (WGME 13 CBS)

// Martha Stewart Launches Pet CBD Products ()

// Arizona’s initial adult-use marijuana licensing leaves some cities underserved (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Lawmakers in Costa Rica ask government to speed up medical cannabis debate (Tico Times)

// Did iAnthus Bankers Conspire To ‘Wipe Out’ Shareholders? (Green Market Report)

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MORE Act, Federal Cannabis Decriminalization Or Corporatization?

Democrats and a few Republicans have given in and admitted their views on cannabis must change. A bill passed through the House of Representatives on December 4, 2020. This new act proposes to decriminalize pot which was classified as a schedule one narcotic fifty years ago. A war on drugs failed but was allegedly not […]

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, December 8, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// The House passed the MORE Act. Is weed legal now? (Leafly)

// Nebraska advocates aim for a marijuana legalization twofer in 2022 (Leafly)

// N.J. lawmakers reach deal on legal weed bill, plan to vote later this month (NJ.com)


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// GrowGeneration to Raise $125 Million Selling Stock (New Cannabis Ventures)

// U.S. cannabis firm Verano to go public with US$2.8B valuation (BNN Bloomberg)

// Ayr Strategies to Issue $75 Million 4-Year Notes at 12.5% (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Cannabis Sales in 5 Western States Grow in Excess of 30% During October (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Bill To Legalize Marijuana In Mexico Advancing In Committees Ahead Of Final Floor Vote (Marijuana Moment)

// Soda, gummies and Elbow chocolates: KC plant makes Missouri’s first marijuana edibles (Kansas City Star)

// House-Passed Marijuana Legalization Bill Would Add $13.7B To Federal Budget Congressional Analysts Say (Marijuana Moment)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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House approves federal cannabis legalization bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to federally legalize marijuana in a historic vote on Friday.

It’s the day that cannabis reform advocates have been building toward for years—a full floor vote to end prohibition in a chamber of Congress.

Prior to the bill’s approval in a 228 to 164 vote, Republican lawmakers spent days criticizing their Democratic counterparts for even bringing the legislation to the floor.

While the vote was mostly along party lines, five Republicans supported the reform and six Democrats opposed it.

Under the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, cannabis would be federally descheduled and those with prior convictions would have their records expunged. The descheduling provisions would be retroactive, too.

Despite the unprecedented House victory for reformers, few believe the legislation stands a chance in the Republican-controlled Senate, at least before the end of the current Congress early next month. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the lead sponsor of the Senate companion version of the bill.

Ahead of the bill’s passage, debate on the floor largely consisted of Democrats making the case that the reform will help to right the wrongs of the racist war on drugs, and Republicans arguing that legalization would cause harms to children and public safety and that now is not the right time to consider the issue in any case.

“Across this nation, thousands of men and women have suffered needlessly from the federal criminalization of marijuana, particularly in communities of color and have borne the burden of collateral consequences for those ensnared in criminal legal systems that have damaged our society across generations,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said in her opening remarks. “This is unacceptable and we must change our laws. It is time for Congress to catch up with the reforms that states are enacting.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the sole GOP cosponsor of the legislation, said that while he feels the bill is “flawed,” he is voting for it “because the federal government has lied to the people of this country about marijuana for a generation.

“We have seen a generation, particularly of black and brown youth, locked up for offenses that not should have not resulted in any incarceration whatsoever,” he said.

The fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), said cannabis criminalization represents “a stain on our democracy,” emphasizing ongoing racial disparities in enforcement despite the fact that black and white people use marijuana at roughly the same rates.

Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-chair Barbara Lee (D-CA) said the MORE Act “is an important racial justice measure” and “the product of years of work by so many activists and advocates and young people—and it’s long overdue.”

“It’s time to end these unjust laws which has shattered the lives of so many young people of color,” the congresswoman, who presided over the chamber during the final vote, said.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), another Cannabis Caucus co-chair and longtime marijuana reform advocate, gave an impassioned speech in support of the bill.

“We’re not rushing to legalize marijuana,” he said. “The American people have all ready done that. We’re here because Congress has failed to deal with the disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 50 million regular marijuana users [who live in] every one of your districts.”

“It’s time for Congress to step up and do its part,” he said. “We need to catch up with the rest of the American people.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) repeated the GOP criticism of Democratic priorities with this vote and slammed the tax provisions of the MORE Act.

“This bill—it’s not enough just to legalize marijuana. They want taxpayers to pay for it,” he said of Democrats. “This bill sets up a grant program. This is the marijuana business infrastructure bill.”

Prior to the vote on final passage, the House considered a motion to recommit—the minority party’s only tool to amend the bill—from Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) to add language clarifying that “an employer may test an employee or applicant for cannabis use to ensure workplace and public safety.” That proposal was rejected by a tally of 218 to 174, with one member voting present.

“In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic House Democrats are rushing to pass a sweeping marijuana legalization bill without considering the unintended consequences the legislation will have on workplace and public safety,” she said. The vote on the motion will occur after the vote on passage.

“Wars are costly, and the war on marijuana is no exception,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said. “The costs of the war on marijuana have disproportionately fell on the backs of blacks and Latinos.”

Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) noted that “than half of all Americans live in a state where cannabis is legal” and said Congress should “align federal cannabis laws with the will of the people. Let’s take full advantage of the medical benefits of cannabis.”

He also thanked House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the bill’s sponsor, for including one of his proposals to require a study of the benefits of medical cannabis for veterans in an adopted manager’s amendment.

“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health,” Nadler, who was not present for the debate, said in a written statement.

“Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust,” he said.

“The bottom line is, this vote is about freedom,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said. “It’s about freedom of choice for every American to make their own decisions for themselves without fear of the government coming and arresting them.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) voiced opposition to the legislation and inaccurately claimed that voters in his state “barely” approved a measure to legalize marijuana during last month’s election. In fact, it passed 60-40 percent—a point Blumenauer later clarified.

The chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), said the bill “will restore justice to our most marginalized communities and it will boost our economy.” She added that “communities of color have disproportionately suffered from the so-called war on drugs” and they “have also been locked out of traditional capital markets.”

“That is why the MORE Act is the best legislation to advance progress on this issue,” she said.

It’s been about a year since the legislation cleared the Judiciary Committee. Advocates have been pushing for a floor vote ever since, and leadership initially said that would take place in September. But certain centrist Democrats urged a delay, citing concerns about the optics of advancing the reform before passing another round of coronavirus relief.

Leadership agreed but promised a floor vote before the year’s end. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) recently announced that the action would take place this week, and the procedural rules for floor consideration were approved in committee on Wednesday. The House began preliminary debate and accepted the rule—which closed the bill to further amendments—on Thursday.

GOP lawmakers have repeatedly hit House leadership after plans of the vote on the MORE Act were announced. While many have lashed out on Twitter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the floor of his chamber to condemn the move on Thursday, sarcastically mocking Democrats for “spending this week on pressing issues like marijuana.”

One House Democrat, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), echoed the GOP criticism, saying that this “isn’t the right way” to advance reform and arguing that lawmakers should instead be focused on COVID-19 relief.

Before coming to the floor, the legislation was revised in a Rules Committee Print, transmitted from Nadler’s Judiciary panel, and further modified in a manager’s amendment he filed. Most of the revisions were technical in nature, though there was one significant change as it relates to the proposed tax structure for marijuana.

As now structured, the MORE Act would make it so cannabis would be federally taxed at five percent for the first two years after implementation and then increased by one percent each year until reaching eight percent. After five years, taxes would be applied to marijuana products based on weight rather than price.

The bill would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances due to its use.

A new Cannabis Justice Office under the Justice Department would be responsible for distributing funds providing loans for small cannabis businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The bill also seeks to minimize barriers to licensing and employment in the legal industry.

It would also establish a Community Reinvestment Grant Program. Tax dollars appropriated to that program would go to job training, legal aid for criminal and civil cases such as those concerning marijuana-related expungements, literacy programs and youth recreation and mentoring services, among other programs.

In new changes that some reform advocates take exception to, the legislation also stipulates that the heads of the Transportation Department and Coast Guard may continue to include marijuana in drug testing programs for safety-sensitive positions and clarifies that the expungement provisions only apply to “non-violent marijuana offenders” and bars so-called “kingpins” from obtaining expungements.

Advocates were optimistic about the bill’s advancement through the House, but it should be noted that its prospects in the GOP-controlled Senate this session are dim. McConnell is a champion of the hemp industry but staunchly opposes further marijuana reform.

Still, the historic nature of a vote by a chamber of Congress to legalize marijuana is hard to overstate. While the House has on two previous occasions approved amendments to shield all state marijuana laws from federal interference (which later died in the Senate), never before has legislation to formally remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act advanced on Capitol Hill.

Legalization advocates heralded the vote as a watershed moment for the movement.

Justin Stekal, political director of NORML, said this “is a historic day for marijuana policy in the United States.”

“This vote marks the first time in 50 years that a chamber of Congress has ever revisited the classification of cannabis as a federally controlled and prohibited substance, and it marks the first time in 24 years—when California became the first state defy the federal government on the issue of marijuana prohibition—that Congress has sought to close the widening chasm between state and federal marijuana policies,” he said. “By establishing this new trajectory for federal policy, we expect that more states will revisit and amend the archaic criminalization of cannabis, establish regulated consumer marketplaces, and direct law enforcement to cease the practice of arresting over half a million Americans annually for marijuana-related violations—arrests which disproportionately fall upon those on people of color and those on the lower end of the economic spectrum.”

Aaron Smith, chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association said that “the symbolic and historical importance of the MORE Act passing in the House cannot be overstated.”

“This vote stands as a rebuke of failed and harmful prohibition policies, and represents a growing understanding of their racially and economically disparate impacts,” he said. “Americans are increasingly ready to see cannabis legal for adults and sensibly regulated, which they showed through their representatives today and at the ballot box last month.”

Steve Fox, a strategic advisor to the Cannabis Trade Federation, said it is “a day of celebration for everyone who has worked to end cannabis prohibition over the past 25 years. All of those efforts have built toward this day.”

While celebrating the overall legislation, Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins noted that “it falls short of a perfect bill and at least one provision can hopefully be removed before final enactment.”

“An amendment inserted in the final days before today’s vote would empower the federal government to prevent Americans who have been charged with cannabis-related felonies from working in the marijuana industry,” he said. “This policy could block many of those individuals accused of prior marijuana offenses from participating in the legal market, which will inhibit our ability to create an equitable and fair marijuana industry. The fact that it might apply to people who were never even convicted of a crime makes it particularly unacceptable.”

Overall, the passage of the legalization legislation could send a strong signal to the incoming presidential administration, and it sets the stage for similar action in 2021—especially if Democrats win control of the Senate after two runoff elections in Georgia next month.

Given President-elect Joe Biden’s former approach to championing punitive anti-drug legislation as a senator and his ongoing obstinance on marijuana legalization at a time when polls show that a clear majority of Americans favor the policy change, there remains some skepticism about his willingness to make good on his campaign promises to achieve more modest reforms he has endorsed, such as decriminalizing possession and expunging records.

A transition document the incoming Biden-Harris administration released this month left out mention of those cannabis pledges. While Harris is sponsoring the MORE Act, she’s indicated that she would not necessarily push the president-elect to adopt a pro-legalization position.

That said, the president-elect has conceded that his work on punitive anti-drug legislation during his time in Congress was a “mistake.”

For his part, Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment in August that “the Biden administration and a Biden Department of Justice would be a constructive player” in advancing legalization.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Research Service released an analysis of the MORE Act last month, finding that the bill’s passage could “reverse” the current cannabis policy gap that exists between states and the federal government.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps


This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

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