Earlier this month the House Judiciary Committee passed a new bill that could decriminalise cannabis at the federal level.
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The bill is known as H.R 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 24-10.
This means that the MORE Act—which is one of the most comprehensive cannabis reform bills ever introduced to US Congress—will now move on to the Senate. Should it pass there, it will give US states the ability to set their own cannabis policy, as well as requiring federal courts to expunge prior convictions related to the drug.
The bill would also see cannabis officially removed from the Controlled Substances Act and would also force courts to conduct resentencing hearings ex-convicts still living under probation.
I have long believed that the criminalisation of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake.Chairman of the Committee Jerrold Nadler
Part of the bill's broader intention is to address the historical injustices of America's failed war on drugs. In aid of this, the MORE Act will authorise the introduction of a 5% sales tax on cannabis and cannabis products, which will be used to create the Opportunity Trust Fund.
The fund will include three grant programs aimed at providing services to communities that have been most negatively impacted by ineffective drug policies.
The MORE Act will also provide loans to small cannabis business that are owned by disadvantaged individuals, while also providing funding to programs aimed at streamlining the cannabis licensing process. The bill will also introduce pathways for smaller cannabis businesses to access further assistance via its Small Business Administration funding.
According to the Chairman of the Committee, Jerrold Nadler, the introduction of the changes proposed in the MORE Act is long overdue.
"While states have led the way in reform, our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change."
"With the passage of the MORE Act today, the Judiciary Committee has taken long overdue steps to address the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs and to finally decriminalize marijuana at the federal level," Nadler said.
Aside from expunging the convictions of those charged with cannabis use or possession, , the MORE Act will also prohibit the denial of federal public benefits—such as housing assistance—based on prior cannabis related offences.
Previous cannabis convictions would also no longer have any impact on an individuals immigration status under US migration law.
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