Marijuana Advocacy groups Are Pushing Congress To Pass A Federal Cannabis Bill This Month
A collection of influential advocacy groups are pushing for federal cannabis reform. Both the ACLU and NAACP are pressing the heads of a congress to conduct a vote. This vote would be in regards to a House bill to legalize cannabis on a federal level. The vote and potential passing of the bill are trying to be accomplished by the end of the month.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) shared their thoughts on cannabis reform. This was done in a letter that was sent just last week, to the House leadership. The group stated that it’s important to pass the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act. Back in 2020 the MORE Act passed the House and is now being reintroduced.
Ever since last year when the House approved the MORE Act. “the circumstances of this past year have made the War on Drugs even more untenable and amplified the voices of those demanding transformation in our criminal-legal system,” the groups wrote.
“In the face of a growing national dialogue on discriminatory law enforcement practices, including the disproportionate policing of drug use in communities of color, transforming our criminal-legal system and redressing its harms is more relevant and more pressing than ever before,” the letter states. “Marijuana reform represents a modest but necessary first step toward that transformation and toward repairing the harm wrought by the War on Drugs. The MORE Act remains the most effective and equitable way forward.”
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Jerrold Nadler who is the Judiciary Committee Chairman has stepped up as the sponsor of the bill. This bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. As well as erasing the past cannabis crimes for people who have been in trouble with those issues. Next, this bill would also impose a federal tax on cannabis. The tax money that is made from legal cannabis would be used to rebuild communities and fund other programs.
LCCHR is also made up of the Human Rights Campaign, Anti-Defamation League, National Organization for Women. As well People for the American Way mentioned that marijuana-related convictions are still the reason for mass incarceration. This particular issue strips people of certain federal aid and also leads to deportations for non-citizens. If the MORE Act can be passed it would offer the best opportunity to fix
some of those problems.
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At one time the, LCCHR was headed up by Vanita Gupta Who was Biden’s choice for assistant attorney general. Furthermore, Vanita Gupta was approved by the Senate back in April. Mrs. Gupta has gone on to let down advocates when she went back on her previous backing for drug decriminalization during the confirmation process.
In any case, the alliance wrote in the new letter that the MORE Act “addresses the collateral consequences of federal marijuana criminalization and takes steps to ensure the legal marketplace is diverse and inclusive of individuals most adversely affected by prohibition.”
The letter also mentioned that the legislation has been amended to remove a stipulation that was added at the last minute. This change came during the last session. From this, it would have prohibited people with past marijuana convictions from operating a “cannabis enterprise” in the legal industry. That change indicates “a significant improvement from last year’s bill and will be a key factor in alleviating inequities in this burgeoning marketplace,” it continues.
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Still, while that bill portrays an improvement, LCCHR did encourage Congress to embrace further revisions to this legislation. The proposal as reintroduced keeps a measure excluding people who’ve been sentenced under “kingpin” statute from being qualified for expungements. This “undermines the purpose of the bill and continues to perpetuate the War on Drugs.”
“The MORE Act is needed now more than ever before,” the letter states.
“The bill will strike a blow at mass incarceration by reducing the number of people who are incarcerated, alleviating health challenges posed by COVID-19. Passage of the bill will also help ameliorate economic hardship caused by COVID-19 by minimizing barriers to employment due to prior justice-system involvement and generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs through expanding the industry and investing in affected communities.”
Furthermore, the measure “will allow state marijuana regulatory programs to flourish, generating crucial new revenue for states and localities.”
“The MORE Act represents a historic opportunity to address the decades of harm perpetrated by federal marijuana criminalization on communities of color and low-income communities,” it concludes. “Now is the time for the House to pass the MORE Act once again. We strongly urge House leadership to support the passage of the bill and schedule the bill for a vote in June.”
Currently, many supporters are overall supporting Nadler’s bill. This letter has arrived as Senate leadership proceeds to compose a bill to end federal cannabis prohibition. Which Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said over and over again that it would be introduced “soon.” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden who is also working the bill alongside Schumer and Sen. Cory Booker said to expect a filing “very soon.”