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Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act

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Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleTo decriminalize and deschedule 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.
Legislative history

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, also known as the MORE Act, is a proposed piece of U.S. federal legislation that would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and enact various criminal and social justice reforms related to cannabis, including the expungement of prior convictions.

Introduced by Jerry Nadler on May 28, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the bill for the second time on April 1, 2022.


Provisions of the act include:[1][2][3]

  • Federal legalization of marijuana by removing marijuana (cannabis) and THC from the Controlled Substances Act and directing expungement of related convictions
  • Expressly prohibits the denial of federal benefits based on a would-be recipient's "use or possession of cannabis, or on the basis of a conviction or adjudication of juvenile delinquency for a cannabis offense". Specifically, it would prohibit the denial of any Federal public benefit including federal loans, federal grants, and contracts as well as benefits such as welfare, unemployment, and food assistance—or any "benefit or protection under the immigration laws". The bill would also bar certain federally-funded programs from declining to provide services or financial assistance to an otherwise eligible small business because the business operates in the cannabis industry.
  • Creates cannabis tax and grant programs funded by a 5% tax on cannabis products (excluding prescription medications derived from cannabis)
    • Community Reinvestment Grant Program providing services for "individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs", including job training, health education, mentoring, literacy programs, and substance use treatment programs
    • Cannabis Opportunity Program providing funds for eligible states to make loans to assist small businesses in the cannabis industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals
    • An Equitable Licensing Grant Program providing funds for eligible states to develop and implement equitable cannabis licensing programs that "minimize barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs
  • Directs the Bureau of Labor Statistics to gather demographic data about cannabis business owners and employees

According to USA Today, "[t]he trust funds the Act would create include the Community Reinvestment Grant, which would provide funding for services such as job training, re-entry services and legal aid; the Cannabis Opportunity Grant, which would provides funds to assist small businesses in the pot industry; and the Equitable Licensing Grant, which minimizes barriers to gain access to marijuana licensing and employment for those most impacted by the so-called war on drugs."[4] States would maintain their own laws regarding the substance, including whether to legalize it locally.[5]

Due to reduced law enforcement activity and prison costs associated with marijuana-related crimes, the bill would reduce federal expenditures by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the New York Times. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill would reduce the deficit by almost $3 billion over ten years.[6]


Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019/2020[edit]

Matching bills were introduced to the House of Representatives by Jerry Nadler and to the Senate by Kamala Harris on July 23, 2019. At the time, Harris was a 2020 Democratic Party candidate for U.S. president.[7]

The act was passed with a 24–10 majority by the House Judiciary Committee following markup on November 20, 2019.[8][9] Only two Republicans voted in favor.[5] This was the first time in history a congressional committee approved a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition.[10][11] The legislation was scheduled for a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health on January 15, 2020, titled "Cannabis Policies For The New Decade".[12][13]

According to a message released by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn's (D-SC) office, the House would vote on the bill in September 2020.[5] House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, in a letter to colleagues, confirmed that the vote would occur by the end of September.[14] This was later delayed until later in the year as a result on needing to focus on COVID-19-related spending.[15]

Following the November 2020 elections, Hoyer announced the bill would get a floor vote in December.[16] Following debate on the House floor on December 3, a vote was scheduled for December 4,[17] when the bill passed with a 228–164 majority, mostly along party lines, marking the first time a chamber of Congress approved legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition.[18]

222 Democrats voted for the bill, while Cheri Bustos, Henry Cuellar, Conor Lamb, Dan Lipinski, Chris Pappas, and Collin Peterson were the six Democrats voting against.[19] 158 Republicans voted against the bill, while Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Tom McClintock, Denver Riggleman, and Don Young were the five Republicans voting in favor.[20] The sole Libertarian in the House, Justin Amash, also voted for the bill.[19]

Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021[edit]

Nadler reintroduced the bill to Congress on May 28, 2021, with some changes.[21] On September 30, 2021, the House Committee on the Judiciary referred the bill for a vote by the House.[22][23] On March 24, it was scheduled to be considered for a House floor vote sometime the following week, pending a House Rules Committee hearing.[24][25][26] On March 30, the Rules Committee cleared the bill for a House floor vote with amendments related to immigration, studies on workplace and traffic safety, and security clearances.[27][28] On April 1, the bill passed in the House on a 220-204 vote.[29]

Legislative history[edit]

As of May 6, 2024:

Congress Short title Bill number(s) Date introduced Sponsor(s) # of cosponsors Latest status
116th Congress MORE Act of 2019 H.R. 3884 July 23, 2019 Jerry Nadler (D-NY) 120 Passed in the House
S.2227 July 23, 2019 Kamala Harris (D-CA) 8 Died in Committee
117th Congress MORE Act of 2021 H.R. 3617 May 28, 2021 Jerry Nadler (D-NY) 114 Passed in the House
118th Congress MORE Act of 2023 H.R. 5601 September 20, 2023 Jerry Nadler (D-NY) 87 Referred to committees of jurisdiction

Support and opposition[edit]

In August 2020, on the behalf of a long list of civil rights and drug policy activist groups, Vanita Gupta sent a letter to Democratic congressional leaders calling for a vote on the act. The letter states that "In the face of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national dialogue on unjust law enforcement practices, marijuana reform as a modest first step at chipping away at the War on Drugs is more relevant and more pressing than ever before."[30][31]

On June 1, 2021, Amazon's consumer CEO announced the company's support for the bill and that it would no longer test non-transportation workers for cannabis use.[32] Amazon also announced that it would use its "public policy team" (lobbying resources) to back the bill.[33] On June 4, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights published a letter urging Congress to pass the bill.[34]

In comparison to the first iteration of the MORE Act in 2019/2020, the Act of 2021 had less GOP support. Thomas Massie (R-KY), a supporter of cannabis legalization, criticized the bill stating that it would create "new marijuana crimes" with each violation punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.[35] Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act that would, in addition to legalizing cannabis, implement a federal excise tax on marijuana starting at 10 percent and rising to 25 percent by the fifth year, which would be in addition to the state and local taxes and additional taxes and regulations.[36] Proponents of cannabis legalization are skeptical that this or similar bills will pass as so called "Liberty Republicans", such as Massie who would support cannabis legalization, have expressed that they will not support legislation that broadens government authority over the regulation of the plant.[37]


  1. ^ The MORE Act: House Plans Historic Vote on Federal Marijuana Legalization, Congressional Research Service, November 25, 2020, Legal Sidebar LSB10556
  2. ^ Wright, Jasmine; Lah, Kyung (July 23, 2019). "Kamala Harris and Jerry Nadler team on plan to decriminalize pot, expunge convictions". CNN. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  3. ^ Sullum, Jacob (July 23, 2019). "The Harris-Nadler Marijuana Bill Goes Further Than Others in Ways Good and Bad". Reason. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  4. ^ Morin, Rebecca (July 23, 2019). "Kamala Harris once opposed legalizing marijuana. Now she wants to decriminalize it". USA Today. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Fertig, Natalie (August 28, 2020). "House set to vote on marijuana legalization". Politico. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  6. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (April 1, 2022). "House Votes to Decriminalize Cannabis". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  7. ^ LaVito, Angelica (July 23, 2019). "Nadler, Harris to introduce bill decriminalizing pot, expunge marijuana convictions". CNBC. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  8. ^ Budryk, Zack (November 18, 2019). "House to hold markup Wednesday on marijuana decriminalization bill". The Hill. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  9. ^ Lovelace, Berkeley Jr. (November 20, 2019). "House committee approves landmark bill legalizing marijuana at the federal level". CNBC. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  10. ^ Angell, Tom (November 20, 2019). "Marijuana legalization bill approved by congressional committee in historic vote". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  11. ^ Donohue, Caitlin (November 20, 2019). "House Judiciary Committee Approves Historic MORE Act – The cannabis legalization bill will now move to a floor vote in the House". High Times. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  12. ^ Blistein, Jon (January 14, 2020). "Hot Box the House: Inside the Marijuana Bills Congress Will Debate This Week". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  13. ^ "Cannabis Policies For The New Decade". United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Archived from the original on January 14, 2020. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
  14. ^ Wong, Scott (August 31, 2020). "House to tackle funding, marijuana in September". The Hill. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  15. ^ Ferris, Sarah; Fertig, Natalie (September 17, 2020). "House punts marijuana vote". Politico. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  16. ^ Fertig, Natalie (November 9, 2020). "House will vote on cannabis legalization bill in December". Politico. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  17. ^ Jaeger, Kyle (December 3, 2020). "Congress Begins Debate On Marijuana Legalization Bill, With Final Vote Expected Friday". Marijuana Moment. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  18. ^ Walsh, Deirdre (December 4, 2020). "House Approves Decriminalizing Marijuana; Bill To Stall In Senate". NPR.org. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Stracqualursiv, Veronica; Dezenski, Lauren (December 4, 2020). "House passes bill decriminalizing marijuana at federal level". CNN. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  20. ^ Swanson, Ian (December 4, 2020). "Five Republicans vote for bill to decriminalize marijuana". TheHill. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  21. ^ Hutzler, Alexandra (May 28, 2021). "Bill to Federally Decriminalize Marijuana, Expunge Records Reintroduced in Congress". Newsweek. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  22. ^ Jonathan D. Salant (September 30, 2021), Ending federal ban on marijuana clears key House committee, nj.com
  23. ^ Lauren Clason (September 30, 2021), "House committee advances bill to legalize marijuana", Roll Call
  24. ^ Cristina Marcos (March 24, 2022), "Marijuana legalization bill nears House floor vote next week", The Hill
  25. ^ "Text of Bills for the Week of Mar. 28, 2022". Official website. United States House of Representatives. March 24, 2022.
  26. ^ Steve Gelsi (March 24, 2022). "House plans to vote for a second time on cannabis measure". MarketWatch.
  27. ^ Carney, Jordain (March 28, 2022). "This week: House set to vote on marijuana legalization bill". The Hill.
  28. ^ Tony Lange (March 31, 2022). "MORE Act Clears Rules Committee, Heads to House Floor". Cannabis Business Times.
  29. ^ Cristina Marcos. "House approves bill legalizing marijuana". The Hill.
  30. ^ Best, Paul (August 29, 2020). "Marijuana decriminalization vote expected in House". Fox News. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  31. ^ Gupta, Vanita (August 13, 2020). "Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act Letter". The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  32. ^ Palmer, Annie (June 1, 2021). "Amazon Backs Federal Bill to Legalize Marijuana and Adjusts Its Drug Testing Policy for Some Workers". CNBC News. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  33. ^ Hernandez, Marcus (June 2, 2021). "Amazon backs marijuana legalization, drops weed testing for some jobs". Reuters. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  34. ^ Jarvis, Sarah. "House Urged To Vote On Revised Pot Decriminalization Bill". Law360. Lexis-Nexis. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  35. ^ "When Will Democrats Get Serious About Repealing Pot Prohibition?". April 6, 2022. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  36. ^ "Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act" (PDF). Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  37. ^ "Are Democrats Serious About Legalizing Marijuana?". November 2021. Retrieved April 7, 2022.

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