Joined by U.S. Senators Angus King Jr. (I-ME) & Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the Democratic Party, with this past week's election victories in Georgia by Rev. Raphael Warnock & Jon Ossoff, has effectively tied the Republican Party for control of the United States Senate leaving Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris to be the deciding vote in a momentous power shift. Current Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up any bills from the Democratic controlled House of Representatives resulting in major legislation being delayed including COVID-19 relief packages and a failure to vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (MORE Act). The MORE Act removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and would effectively end cannabis prohibition in America. With this shift in power to Democrats, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will assume the mantle of Senate Majority Leader and with it the power to schedule hearings and a vote on ending cannabis prohibition.
Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate including Senators Schumer, Wyden, Booker, Merkley, Smith, and Sanders have already pledged publicly to debate and advance legislation to de-schedule marijuana. With addition of Senators-Elect Warnock and Ossoff from Georgia we see not only a power shift, but two more reform minded advocates joining the Democrats' ranks. Rev. Warnock as a pastor has been quoted, "Marijuana is seen as an illegal substance. It’s a terrible irony and we feel it, that right now in America there are some folks who are becoming billionaires for selling the same stuff that’s got our children locked up all across America...Where is the justice? It’s not enough to decriminalize marijuana. Somebody’s gotta open up the jails and let our children go.” Jon Ossoff has given his commitment to reform saying, "I won’t just push for decriminalization; I’ll push for nationwide legalization of cannabis."
In the Senate, the MORE Act was referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which is now expected to be Chaired by Sen. Ron Wyden. Senator Wyden was the recipient of the 2019 NORML Rufus King Sr. award for Outstanding Public Servant. The MORE Act would make several other important changes to federal law in addition to ending marijuana prohibition. Including, permitting physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration to make medical marijuana recommendations to qualifying veterans who reside in legal states and incentivizing states to move ahead with expungement policies that will end the stigma and lost opportunities suffered by those victims of the War on Drugs. Once approved, the MORE Act will allow the Small Business Administration to support cannabis entrepreneurs and small business owners as they seek to gain a foothold in this burgeoning industry.
The MORE Act became the first bill in United States history to end the federal prohibition of cannabis approved by a chamber of Congress when it passed the House of Representatives in December of 2020.
Read the full details by clicking the bill below:
HR 3884: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act
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