The table is set for Congress to vote on the end of federal marijuana prohibition. The House Judiciary Committee is set to consider Bill HR 3884, titled the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. The MORE Act is bi-partisan and sponsored by Rep. Kamala D. Harris from California. In effect, it would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and thus decriminalize it at the federal level. States could then set their own policies related to marijuana (as opposed to hemp) without the threat of federal enforcement. It is important to note that the MORE Act would not make marijuana explicitly legal, but rather removes it from the CSA and from the enforcement purview of the DEA and FBI, etc. Similarly, the 2018 Farm Bill, signed in December of 2018, removed hemp from the CSA, providing states the opportunity to regulate the production of hemp and hemp derivatives under rules set forth by the USDA.
HR 3884 states that its purpose is to “decriminalize and de-schedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.” Among other items, VA doctors will be able to prescribe marijuana in states where it is legal to treat anxiety, PTSD, and pain.
Under the bill, states will be able to move forward to expunge certain cannabis convictions, and those with non-violent offenses can apply for resentencing. Upon passage of the 2018 Farm Bill related to hemp, the Small Business Administration was empowered to assist appropriate business efforts with financing. The MORE Act will do much the same for marijuana. Removing marijuana from the CSA may allow access to banking, financing, and insurance, eliminate 280E tax restrictions, and generally de-stigmatize marijuana. These factors will greatly benefit the growing industry.
As an aside, it is important to remember that both hemp and marijuana are cannabis. Marijuana contains the psychoactive element THC, while hemp may contain no more than .3% THC content, which is not sufficient to produce the psychoactive effect of marijuana. Typically, marijuana will contain between a 5% and 20% THC dry weight concentration.
The MORE Act also provides grants for communities negatively impacted by the war on drugs, and non-violent marijuana consumers who have a record and have trouble finding work will have the chance for a fresh start.
The upcoming vote will tell Americans a good deal about the progress made in the effort to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.