Is This It? 

Federal MORE Act could decriminalize marijuana.

Canada. Mexico. Just when it seemed the U.S. would be the last North American holdout on even considering cannabis legalization, Americans got a surprise Monday.

The House Judiciary Committee announced it would begin work this week on H.R. 3884, or the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act). It is "comprehensive legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, reassess marijuana convictions, and invest in local communities." Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

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"Our marijuana laws disproportionately harm individuals and communities of color, leading to convictions that damage job prospects, access to housing, and the ability to vote," said committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). "Recognizing this, many states have legalized marijuana. It's now time for us to remove the criminal prohibitions against marijuana at the federal level. That's why I introduced the MORE Act, legislation which would assist communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of these laws."

The MORE Act would: • Apply retroactively to prior and pending convictions. • Enable states to set their own policy. • Require federal courts to expunge prior convictions. • Allow prior offenders to request expungement. • Require courts to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.

It would also put a 5 percent tax on the sale of cannabis and cannabis products. That money would create the Opportunity Trust Fund. That fund would provide job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment programs for "individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs."

The fund would also give loans to help small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by "socially and economically disadvantaged individuals." It would also help minimize barriers to "marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs."

The MORE Act would also touch other areas of federal law including those around public benefits like housing, immigration, nondiscrimination, and more.

"Our federal cannabis policies have been rooted in the past for far too long," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a co-sponsor of the bill. "As states continue to modernize how we regulate cannabis, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our policies are fair, equitable, and inclusive."

Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen, a longtime advocate for cannabis reform, announced in July that he'd signed on to the MORE Act.

"Currently, our laws treat marijuana as more dangerous than cocaine, methamphetamine, or fentanyl," Cohen said at the time. "This harsh policy has torn apart families and neighborhoods and disproportionately impacted communities of color. The MORE Act will fix this and give us a sensible and workable cannabis policy."

Americans Agree

The MORE Act comes at a time when two-thirds of Americans say the use of cannabis should be legal, according to a new Pew Research Center survey released last week.

The group said the number of U.S. adults who oppose legalization has fallen from 52 percent in 2010 to 32 percent today.

Nearly 60 percent of adults polled told Pew researchers cannabis should be legal for medical or recreational use. Fewer than one in 10 (8 percent) said cannabis should remain illegal in all circumstances.

Millenials and Baby Boomers agreed (on something, finally) that cannabis should be legal. So did Gen Xers. But more Democrats than Republicans favored legalization.

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