On November 27, Congress announced that a vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (The MORE Act) is scheduled for this week. The House Bill, which is HR 3884 will have a vote on either Wednesday, December 2; Thursday, December 3; or Friday, December 4.
The MORE Act will deschedule cannabis making it easier for states to move towards legalization and also has a number of changes to how the federal government approaches cannabis (for all of The Outlaw Report’s MORE Act coverage, go here).
A vote on The MORE Act was supposed to happen in September, but Democrats announced they would delay the vote to assuage fears from the party’s moderates, who did not want to alienate potential voters before the presidential election. That concern was roundly criticized at the time, especially because cannabis legalization has noted bipartisan support. According to Data For Progress, a survey of “Democratic likely voters” from early this year showed 80% support (with 60% of support characterized as “strong”). In October 2020—after Democrats decided to delay the MORE Act vote— a poll from Gallup which asked the question, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” The overall answers were 68% “yes” and 32% “no.”
After November’s election, the Democrats kept their promise to put the MORE Act up for a vote, further emboldened by the spread of cannabis legalization to more states (including red states Montana and South Dakota) and Oregon voting to decriminalize the possession of a small amount of any drugs.
“Our vote to pass it next week will come after people in five very different states reaffirmed the strong bipartisan support to reform the failed cannabis prohibition,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer in a statement. “National support for federal cannabis legalization is at an all-time high and almost 99 percent of Americans will soon live in states with some form of legal cannabis.”
Cannabis advocates are encouraged by the scheduled vote. Justin Strekal, Political Director of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) released the following statement.
“This floor vote represents the first Congressional roll call ever on the question of ending federal marijuana criminalization,” Strekal said. “By advancing the MORE Act, the House of Representatives sends an unmistakable signal that America is ready to close the book marijuana prohibition and end the senseless oppression and fear that this failed policy wreaks on otherwise law-abiding citizens.”
NORML also explained some of the social justice and economic reasons for passing the MORE Act and getting one step closer to making cannabis legal across the country. For example, NORML noted that “over 545,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in 2019 alone [and] over 90% of those arrested were charged with mere possession.” Meanwhile, the legal cannabis industry “employs over 243,000 full-time workers,” adding, “that is over four times the number of jobs specific to the coal industry.”
The ACLU meanwhile, is encouraging people to reach out to representatives before the pending MORE Act vote to “tackle the racist war on drugs” and support the MORE Act.
“Our nation is ready to put an end to the destructive and racist policies that the War on Drugs has caused and a critical development in Congress could have a huge impact on making that happen,” an ACLU email read. “The House is set to vote on the MORE Act—a groundbreaking piece of marijuana reform legislation.”