House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement Act (the “MORE Act”) on Friday, May 28, 2021. The MORE Act seeks to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge certain cannabis-related criminal records at the federal level, and create social equity programs via a federal sales tax on cannabis products. Rep. Nadler had previously introduced the MORE Act in 2020. At that time, it passed the House of Representatives but was never voted on in the Senate.
This year’s version of the MORE Act differs slightly from the 2020 version. Key points contained in the act are:
- Implementation of a five percent federal sales tax on cannabis products, that would increase to eight percent over three years. Tax revenue raised would fund the Opportunity Trust Fund, which would help communities impacted by the war on drugs.
- Creation of the Office of Cannabis Justice to prevent penalizing cannabis users who receive social services from the federal government, as well as to oversee the social equity components of the bill.
- Establishment of the Cannabis Restorative Opportunity Program under the Small Business Administration.
- Expungement of low-level federal convictions for cannabis possession, as well as the creation of incentives for states to expunge similar convictions.
- Permitting the prescription of medicinal cannabis to veterans through the VA system.
- Preventing deportation of immigrants for minor cannabis infractions or for working for cannabis companies in states where cannabis has been legalized.
The MORE Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee, Earl Blumenauer, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, and Nydia Velázquez. While it is expected the bill will be passed by the House of Representatives, its future in the Senate is unclear. Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden intend to introduce their own bill legalizing cannabis soon.