On December 3, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor (by a 225 – 160 margin), of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (the “MORE Act of 2019”, H.R.3884), which decriminalizes marijuana.  The bill now goes to the Senate for vote, which is not anticipated to happen before year end.  Until it is passed by both the House and the Senate, it’s “just a bill, up on Capitol Hill.”

The MORE Act of 2019 removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.  By removing cannabis from the CSA, the states are now free to establish their own cannabis laws without fear of conflicting with Federal laws or challenges.

The bill also makes other changes, including the following:

  • establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,
  • imposes a 5% tax on cannabis products and requires revenues to be deposited into the trust fund,
  • makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,
  • prohibits the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions,
  • prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws on the basis of a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction),
  • establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses,
  • replaces statutory references in federal laws to “marijuana” and “marihuana” with “cannabis” (out with the old, in with the new),
  • requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees, and
  • directs the Government Accountability Office to study the societal impact of cannabis legalization.

The MORE Act of 2019 was sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and was thoroughly reviewed and commented upon by the following House committees over a period of 16 months (a lot of thought went into this Act): Judiciary (including the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security); Energy and Commerce (including the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health); Agriculture; Education and Labor; Ways and Means; Small Business; Natural Resources House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands (including the ); Oversight and Reform.

**This post is for informational purposes only, For legal advice, contact a Cannabis Business Lawyer**

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