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The MORE Act

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 13, 2020

    This Wednesday, January 15th, at 10 am EST, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a legislative hearing entitled “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade.” This marks the first time that members of the Energy and Commerce Committee will hear and debate issues specific to marijuana policy reform. 

    Now more than ever, congressional action is required to end the failed criminalization of marijuana and amend federal law to ensure that state-legal cannabis programs can operate as intended.

    The legislative hearing notice states that six bills will be discussed, including HR 3884, the MORE Act, which recently was approved in the House Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan vote of 24-10 and waived by the House Small Business Committee. 

    Witnesses will be: 

    Matthew J. Strait, Senior Policy Advisor, Diversion Control Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

    Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

    Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse National Institutes of Health (NIDA)

    To date, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana programs and 11 states and the District have legalized the responsible use of marijuana by adults 21 and over. 

    It is our hope that lawmakers take an honest assessment of the federal policy changes necessary to create an appropriate federal framework for these state-wide legalization laws to flourish. In order to best maintain the market controls that a majority of states have enacted to promote public health, prevent the distribution of marijuana to minors, ensure safe business practices, and improve public safety, cannabis must be descheduled, not rescheduled, from the Controlled Substances Act. This move allows states the authority to the primary regulators of state-level cannabis policies without having to look over their shoulder in fear of the threat of federal intervention.

    It is time for the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to take action to advance The MORE Act, which removes the cannabis plant from the federal Controlled Substances Act and makes other substantive changes. For example, it permits physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration to make medical marijuana recommendations to qualifying veterans who reside in legal states and it incentivizes states to move ahead with expungement policies that will end the stigma and lost opportunities suffered by those with past, low-level cannabis convictions. If approved, the MORE Act also allows the Small Business Administration to support entrepreneurs and businesses as they seek to gain a foothold in this emerging industry.

    You can contact your lawmakers in support of the MORE Act in less than 30 seconds by clicking here. 

    More information on the hearing can be found at the subcommittee’s website here

    Read additional information about the MORE Act here

    Please contact your lawmakers in support of the MORE Act with NORMLs Action Center or by calling the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

  • by NORML January 6, 2020

    As first reported by Politico, the House Small Business Committee is waiving jurisdiction over the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (HR 3884), making it the second House committee in the 116th Congress to advance legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition.

    “With this action, the MORE Act is one step closer to becoming the first bill to end cannabis prohibition to pass the House of Representatives,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Never have we been closer to ending federal marijuana criminalization. Thanks to the work of the Small Business Committee and Chairwoman Velazquez, the emerging legal cannabis industry will ultimately become more inclusive to small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

    The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and incentivize states to facilitate the expungement of criminal records related to low-level marijuana offenses, among other changes. The bill passed in the Judiciary Committee on November 20th with a bipartisan vote of 24 to 10.

    Click here to quickly contact your federal lawmakers in support of the MORE Act or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and tell your Representative that you want to see a floor vote on the MORE Act.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director November 20, 2019

    Today, you were a part of making history. The House Judiciary Committee just approved the MORE Act on a bipartisan vote of 24-10.  This is legislation that tens-of-thousands advocated for by sending messages, making phone calls, and meeting with lawmakers in DC and district offices.

    This marks the first time that a congressional committee has ever passed a bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

    Now, we still have much to do. Here’s what’s next:

    • We need to ensure that other committees do not attempt to slow the momentum,
    • Gain additional support to ensure passage in a full House vote
    • Build support in the Senate and convince leadership to schedule a vote

    Make sure you go on record and contact your member of the House in support of this historic legislation.

    Many naysayers will tell us it is impossible, but that doesn’t mean we give up the fight because our power has been forged over decades.

    When NORML was founded in 1970, only 12% of the public supported legalization. Now, we have a public mandate with majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters all supporting the outright legalization of marijuana.

    When we raise our voices as one, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

    Please consider making a contribution to fund our continuing work to reform our nation’s marijuana laws.

    Then, take a moment to celebrate this win.

    We’ll be back hard at work to advance this further tomorrow.

    Thanks for all you do,
    NORML

  • by NORML November 18, 2019

    The House Judiciary Committee has posted a markup date for HR 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. Members of the Committee will consider the bill on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019, and they will likely hold a vote at that time. The MORE Act was introduced by the Committee’s Chairman, Jerry Nadler of New York and it is expected to be positively received by Committee members.

    Send a message to your lawmakers in support of ending prohibition and criminalization now!

    “A supermajority of Americans, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, support regulating the use of marijuana by responsible adults,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Thanks to the leadership of the House Judiciary chairman, never in history have we been closer to ending the failed policy of marijuana criminalization and providing pathways to opportunity for our brothers and sisters who have suffered under its oppressive reign.”

    Strekal added: “The MORE Act is the most comprehensive marijuana policy reform bill ever introduced in Congress and is backed by a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups. Those who oppose this legislation moving forward are defenders of a failed status-quo that ruins the lives of otherwise law-abiding adults on a daily basis, overwhelming enforced against the poor and communities of color.”

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    Earlier this month, a Pew poll found that 67% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana.

    Earlier this year, members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security heard expert testimony challenging the federal government’s policy of cannabis prohibition. The hearing, entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” debated the merits of various alternative policy options – including ending cannabis’s longstanding Schedule I criminal status under federal law. The hearing marked the first time in decades that members have entertained debate regarding the need to end the federal criminalization of cannabis and to deschedule it from the Controlled Substances Act, which would end federal prohibition and free states to determine their own policies.

    Shortly thereafter, Chairman Nadler introduced the MORE Act to:

    • Remove the marijuana plant from the federal Controlled Substances Act,
    • Require the federal courts to expunge prior marijuana-related convictions,
    • Provide grants to local communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war
    • Permit physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration to authorize medical marijuana recommendations to qualifying veterans who reside in legal states
    • Allow the Small Business Administration to support entrepreneurs and businesses as they seek to gain a foothold in this emerging industry.

    The American people are overwhelmingly on our side and ready to end our failed prohibitionist policies and lately more and more elected officials are joining them. However, we NEED your help to get this legislation approved. We cannot allow this opportunity to pass us by, we need to show members of Congress that their constituents are demanding real change.

    CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE URGING THEIR SUPPORT FOR THE MORE ACT

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director September 25, 2019

    Members of the House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor of HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, which amends federal law so that explicitly banks and other financial institutions may work directly with state-legal marijuana businesses. 

    Two-hundred and twenty-nine Democrats and 91 Republicans cast ‘yes’ votes in favor of the measure.

    This historic vote marks the first time ever that a chamber of Congress has ever held a successful floor vote on a stand-alone piece of marijuana reform legislation. 

    Today’s vote is a significant victory for the cannabis reform movement and here’s why: for the first time ever, a supermajority of the House voted affirmatively to recognize that the legalization and regulation of marijuana is a superior public policy to prohibition and criminalization. 

    Now we look to the Senate, where we are cautiously optimistic. Given the strong bipartisanship of the House vote, coupled with Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo’s recent pledge to hold a markup on this issue, we believe that Congress’ appetite to resolve this important issue has never been greater.

    But we are not done. In fact, we’re just getting started. 

    Why NORML Supports Passage of HR 1595: The Safe Banking Act:

    Federal law currently defines all marijuana-related endeavors as criminal enterprises, including those commercial activities that are licensed and legally regulated under state laws. Therefore, almost no state-licensed cannabis businesses can legally obtain a bank account, process credit cards, or provide loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

    In this environment, the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar cannabis industry must operate largely on a cash-only basis, which makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. This ongoing federal prohibition also places the safety and welfare of these businesses’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities. For these reasons, NORML has long advocated that federal lawmakers vote “yes” on The SAFE Banking Act.

    What’s Next?

    Today’s vote is a significant first step, but it must not be the last. Much more action will still need to be taken by lawmakers. In the Senate, we demand that lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee hold true to their commitment to move expeditiously in support of similar federal reforms. And in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act — which is sponsored by the Chair of the House Judiciary — in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.

    Now Is the Time to Demand Congress Do MORE.

    Now that House members have overwhelmingly shown their support for HR 1595, it is time for them to address more comprehensive reform legislation, namely The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act.

    Introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the MORE Act is bipartisan legislation that removes the marijuana plant from the Controlled Substances Act, thereby descheduling the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own regulatory policies absent the threat of federal interference.

    But, perhaps most importantly, the MORE Act seeks to address many of the past wrongs of marijuana criminalization. Specifically, it would appropriate a portion of the federal taxes collected from the legal industry to pay for the expungement of past criminal records and to partially fund reentry services, job training, and community improvements in jurisdictions that have been most disproportionately impacted by war on marijuana. Furthermore, the MORE Act additional allocates a portion of the federal taxes collected to the Small Business Administration to support small businesses and entrepreneurs who seek to engage in the emerging legal marketplaces. 

    Strike while the iron is hot and send a message to your lawmakers in support of ending prohibition NOW!

    Take time today to tell your members of Congress that their work is far from over. Nearly one in four Americans now reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal and it is time for members of Congress to stand up for their rights and liberties. 

    Thank you again for your support for NORML and for being on the right side of history. We could never have gotten this far without you, and with your continued support we know that we can ultimately secure cannabis freedom in our time. 

     

    Our educational and advocacy efforts are supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 a month to help us keep going?

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