Voting on MORE Act Delayed

Photo Credits: Harbor Collective

Marijuana advocates were expecting the MORE Act to be put up for a historical voting session this September. The bill was supposed to legalize marijuana at the federal level and introduce social justice reforms. Advocates were seeing this as an opportunity to finally end the racial disparities faced by the people of color in the United States. Contrary to these expectations, voting on the MORE ACT has now been delayed until after the November elections.

What is the MORE Act?

MORE Act is short for Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. It is a proposed legislation that would remove cannabis from the Schedule 1 category and legalize it federally.

In addition to this, the bill has also proposed criminal justice reforms. This involves an expungement of prior cannabis convictions and re-sentencing of those under supervision and much more. Furthermore, the bill has also proposed to create grant programs to benefit the communities most hardly hit by the war on drugs.

apart from this, the bill also introduced certain immigrant protection laws. The Act has attempted to put an end to deportation or citizenship denial on the basis of minor marijuana offenses. It also aimed to establish a sales tax of 5% on marijuana and its related products. Returns from it were to be channelized towards youth training programs, substance use treatments, loans and licenses for small businesses in the marijuana industry, and many other causes.

Kamala Harris an Jerry Naddler introduced the MORE Act in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, on the 23rd of July 2019. The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill with a 24-10 majority.

In August of 2020, Vanita Gupta called for a vote on the Act on behalf of marijuana advocates and civil right activists. It would have been a historic move if the bill had been placed in the House of Representatives for voting. Never before in history has a move for descheduling marijuana reached this farther in the legislation process.

In the words of Rep. Earl Blumenauer, “As people across the country protest racial injustices, there’s even greater urgency for Congress to seize this historic opportunity and finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice,”

Voting on MORE Act delayed

A few weeks ago, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had announced that voting on the MORE Act will hit the floor during the week of September 21. However, the office of Steny Hoyer did not include the bill in it weekly floor schedule. A commitment to bring up the bill sometime in late fall has been made.

Most reform advocates believe that the decision to delay voting on MORE Act may have been influenced by moderate Democrats. This group had expressed an earlier concern that voting on a cannabis bill while coronavirus relief legislation was was unresolved would  not create a pleasant image for the reelection campaigns.

This delay has not been taken in good spirits by reform advocates like Rep.Barbara Lee and Rep Earl Blumenauer. According to them, ending the failed war on drugs has disproportionately hurt Black and Brown Americans disproportionately. They believe that the public deserves the right to vote on the issue of marijuana legalization.

“Though it appears to be a temporary delay, we are seriously disappointed by this news as time and time again, communities directly impacted by systemic injustices are made to wait for justice and change,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance.

Despite of this blow to their cause, albeit temporary, advocates of marijuana legalization are still hopeful. They are optimistic that whenever the bill gets presented for a vote, it will get some bipartisan support. This was established Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz, McClintock and showed their intentions to vote yes on the MORE Act.

Opponents of the MORE Act

The delay on the marijuana legalization voting is being celebrated among the opponents. Among them is Rep. Andy Harris who took to twitter to express his views.

Opponents have hailed this delay in voting as a massive victory for public health and safety. They established the fact that encouraging marijuana use in disadvantaged communities was social injustice as less than 2% of marijuana industry is owned by the minority community. The bill would benefit the wealthy white investors, big pharma and the tobacco and alcohol conglomerates.

Yumna Haq: A graduate in Bachelors of Business Administration, Yumna Haq is an ardent researcher and a dedicated writer. Having lived in three different counties, her cultural exposure is vast, allowing her to reflect more knowledge in her work. She's currently working for Cannabis Health Insider as a news writer.