On Dec 4, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act by a vote of 228-164. If passed by the Senate, this legalization bill would deschedule and decriminalize marijuana on the federal level. The bill is not expected to be introduced to the Senate until the next session of Congress, however, and will have to go through the House once more. Even with Democrats taking control of the Senate, while more likely, the passing of the MORE Act is still not a sure thing. Here are some of the highlights of the bill that are important to know and what they mean for the Cannabis industry:
Expunges minor cannabis convictions:
According to the FBI Unified Crime Reporting, more than 545,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in 2019 and more than 90% of those arrested were charged with possession. If passed by the Senate, the MORE Act would expunge the criminal records of convictions for qualifying federal cannabis offenses and related arrests for those no longer incarcerated; meaning that those currently serving a sentence for a federal marijuana charge could petition the courts to resentence as if the marijuana offense did not take place. Additionally, the MORE Act would eliminate the threat of deportation for immigrants accused of minor cannabis infractions or those employed in the legal cannabis industry.
Provides veterans better access to legal cannabis
The Department of Veterans Affairs has long used cannabis’ federal illegality as a reason to not incorporate the plant into patient care. As the laws stand now, veterans looking for alternatives to addictive and dangerous pharmaceuticals are not permitted to use cannabis even if they reside in a state where it is legal. If found to be using cannabis, the consumer is at risk of losing their benefits. If passed, the MORE Act would permit VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis to its patients.
Enables access to Small Business Administration funding
To date, small businesses in the cannabis sector – which create a significant number of jobs that fuel state and local economies – have been unable to access the same federal resources that are available to all small businesses. If passed, the MORE Act would make these cannabis businesses eligible for SBA lending programs as well as give them access to the training and counseling programs offered by SBA resource partners.
Grants companies easier access to banking
If passed, the MORE Act would eliminate the current problems with the 280E tax code (which states that businesses that traffic in controlled substances cannot deduct any expenses incurred in carrying on the production, distribution and sale of controlled substances) and lack of access to banking – hurdles that have plagued the legal cannabis industry since its inception. Additionally, it would impose a federal excise tax of five percent. The act would also create a community reinvestment grant that would fund job training, health education, youth mentoring programs, and legal aid for those impacted most by the war on drugs.
Posted by Carrie Booze