Bill would remove cannabis from list of controlled substances, expunge federal convictions, provide resources to small businesses and impacted communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act and attempt to undo the damage caused by racially and economically disproportionate enforcement of prohibition, was approved by the House of Representatives today. An earlier version of the bill was passed in December 2020 in a largely party-line vote, becoming the first comprehensive cannabis policy reform legislation to receive a floor vote or be approved by either chamber of Congress.
Revisions from last session include the removal of a provision that would have allowed federal regulators to deny cannabis business licenses to applicants who have prior felony convictions. Other changes from the introduced text this session include revisions to property requirements, allowing operators to secure those locations after receiving a federal license.
A number of amendments were offered at a Rules Committee hearing to advance the bill, however, only three were ruled in order. The first passed on a roll call vote and was introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), authorizes $10M for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct a study on technologies and methods that law enforcement may use to determine whether a driver is impaired by [cannabis].
Another amendment, introduced by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA). This amendment directs the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct a study on the impact of legalization to the workplace, using states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis as a guide, and requires NIOSH to develop best practices for employers as companies transition their policies related to cannabis, prioritizing employers engaged in federal infrastructure projects, transportation, public safety, and national security. Additionally, it directs the Department of Education to conduct a study on the impact of legalization to schools and school aged children, using states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis as a guide, and requires the Department of Education to develop best practices for educators and administrators to protect children from any negative impacts.” It passed on a roll call vote.
Another amendment, which failed on a roll call vote was offered by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) would have required federal agencies to review security clearance denials going back to 1971 and retroactively make it so cannabis could not be used “as a reason to deny or rescind a security clearance.”
While there is currently no companion bill in the Senate, Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) along with Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Wyden (D-OR) are expected to introduce a comprehensive cannabis reform bill in the next month.
“With voter support for legal cannabis at an all-time high and more and more states moving away from prohibition, we commend the House for once again taking this step to modernize our federal [cannabis] policies,” stated NCIA Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Aaron Smith. “Now is the time for the Senate to act on sensible reform legislation so that we can finally end the failure of prohibition and foster a well regulated marketplace for cannabis.”
Laws to make cannabis legal for adults have passed in 18 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 36 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization broadly representing cannabis-related businesses at the national level. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and works toward a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for that industry in the United States.