A group of more than 20 criminal justice, civil rights, drug policy, labor, and advocacy organizations are urging Congress to vote on marijuana reform legislation.
The groups, which included the American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union, National Urban League, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and others, asked in a Tuesday letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) that the House vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021 this month.
The legislation, the organizations said, would end federal marijuana prohibition, address the consequences of federal marijuana criminalization, and take steps to ensure a diverse and inclusive marijuana marketplace.
Mass criminalization and over-enforcement of drug law violations have devastated the social and economic fabrics of entire communities while also tearing apart the lives of millions of individuals and families. And while Black, Latino, and Indigenous people have carried the brunt of marijuana criminalization, they have been shut out of the regulated marijuana marketplace due to these very same criminal records in addition to financial barriers to entry,” the groups wrote. “The MORE Act seeks to solve these problems through a comprehensive approach.”
The group said the bill would declassify marijuana as a controlled substance under federal law, expunge marijuana convictions, and reduce marijuana sentences.
According to the group, if passed, the MORE Act would reduce the time served by 73,000 person-years over 2021 to 2030, among existing and future incarcerated individuals. The bill would also place a five percent federal excise tax on marijuana sales at the manufacturer level to fund social services in communities adversely affected by drug prohibition, as well as to invest in programs at the Small Business Administration to support a more diverse and inclusive marketplace with local ownership.
The legislation was first passed in the House in December 2020 but was not considered by the Senate prior to the close of the 116th Congress.
Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, while 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use recreational marijuana.