Last week, cannabis advocacy groups joined with civil rights groups to come together through a coalition and address the U.S.House. Through a letter, the groups called for a floor vote on a bill this month that would legalize cannabis on a federal level as well as promote equity.
More than 20 organizations, including the National Urban League, American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, came together under the Marijuana Justice Coalition (“MJC”). The coalition has mentioned that reform is needed since vote delay will lead to an increase in incarceration rates for cannabis-related offenses.
The bill in discussion is the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (“MORE”) Act. It is sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and was passed by the House in December 2020, yet no advancements have been made.
For every passing minute, one person in the United States is arrested for a cannabis-related offense that is minor. According to the letter written to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the public needs to know whether Congressional members stand on the side of justice and are against an outdated policy that prohibits and criminalizes cannabis. As a result of mass criminalization, the enforcement of these regulations has greatly affected the socioeconomic fabrics of communities, particularly those of Black, Latino and Indigenous people.
Apart from the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, the bill aims to reduce the rate of mass incarcerations as well as remove financial obstacles that prevent small businesses from operating in the cannabis economy.
The letter also mentioned public opinion on marijuana, noting that many Americans feel that marijuana should no longer be federally prohibited. The letter stated that the federal government needed to catch up with the culture shift that favors marijuana regulatory reform, urging government leaders to bring the bill to the House in March.
Some of the other signatories that wrote the letter included NORML, Center for American Progress, Drug Policy Alliance, BOWL PAC, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, MoveOn, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Veterans’ Cannabis Coalition.
Another bill that the advocates are following is the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (“CAOA”). This bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR); the bill is expected to be filed in April.
The federal legalization of marijuana would give industry actors such as American Cannabis Partners a huge opportunity to expand rapidly into different parts of the country without having to navigate a patchwork of often-contradictory regulations for each target jurisdiction.
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