The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was going to be voted this week in the U.S. House of Representatives but this consequential house vote has been postponed until after the November election. Many consider this move derailing from the momentum of the cannabis movement, but many industry lobbyists consider it positive.
The MORE Act would expunge prior marijuana convictions
If approved, the MORE Act would require federal courts to expunge prior marijuana convictions, remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, create a cannabis tax to fund communities that were hit the hardest by the War on Drugs and offer help for minority-owned small businesses to break into the cannabis industry.
Vote delayed on a ‘social justice component’
It’s been argued that even if approved by the House the bill still faces an up-hill battle when facing the Republican controlled Senate. Many lobbyists approve of the delay on the vote, seeing that it was moved with a social justice component, allowing the House to prioritize COVID-19 relief and budget negotiations are still in the works, setting the tone for overall marijuana reform, as well as aide in sweeping and massive business opportunities moving forward.
Industry leaders also consider the move strategic, setting the tone for the U.S. Senate to take similar action in 2021 and 2022, should it flip from Republicans to Democrats after November.
Democrats remain committed to getting the reform approved
According to The Hill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who removed the MORE Act from the schedule, expressed the ongoing commitment Democratic leaders have to voting on the legislation before the end of the year.
“Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to stave off a damaging government shutdown and continuing to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hoyer told The Hill. “Later this autumn, the House will pass the MORE Act with strong support as yet another crucial step toward making our justice system fair for all Americans.”
On the other hand, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, expressed her frustration to delay the vote on the legislation, based on the argument that delaying the expungement of people’s records is a “fear based response”, adding that “when Democrats have power, like a House majority, that we should be drafting our agenda based out of fear of Republicans.”
Overwhelming majority of votes support an end of federal prohibition of cannabis
NORML’s political director, Justin Strekal, stated that the “delay does not change the fact that the overwhelming majority of voters support ending the federal prohibition of cannabis, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.”
Interestingly, presidential candidate Joe Biden has not been outspoken regarding marijuana legalization amongst his policies. However, his running VP, Kamala Harris, is the lead sponsor of the MORE Act in the Senate.