Cannabis Decriminalization Legislation Passes in House
At the start of December, the House quietly passed one of the biggest, most revolutionary cannabis legislation acts the world has yet to see. A decision like this one did not go unnoticed by the weed community, and, now, many of us are left with questions. What does legislation like this mean, and how will it impact the future of cannabis? Will it even pass through the Senate?
Today, Luna Cultivation is talking all about the MORE Act, its future, and what exactly it means for the world of cannabis cultivation.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, or MORE Act, was legislation proposed by now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The bill’s purpose is to decriminalize cannabis as a whole and focus on the effects it has disproportionately had on Black and other non-white communities in the United States.
One of the biggest overarching goals of this bill is to expunge low-level cannabis convictions and have prison sentences regarding marijuana possession re-evaluated. This would allow those with convictions on their records pertaining to cannabis to, essentially, have a fresh start within their communities. Along with this, the MORE Act plans to focus on expanding POC-owned dispensaries and cannabis businesses, as well as grant programs that will help educate communities about the war on drugs and its racial connotations.
Though cannabis will be decriminalized on a federal level, the states still have the choice to either legalize it or not. Of course, the ultimate goal is always federal legalization, but the MORE Act starts as the first step.
If this bill gets passed through the Senate, the effects would be incredible for the United States as a whole. Not only would so many innocent lives be changed--transformed, even--but the government would also be addressing and acknowledging its wrongdoings for BIPOC in this country. Specifically, though, we would hopefully see a huge impact within the world of cannabis equality, entrepreneurship, and, of course, criminal justice.
Decriminalizing cannabis may not be as effective as legalizing it entirely, but it would still have quite an impact on not only the citizens of the US but on the criminal justice system as a whole. Cannabis crimes are some of the most frequent this country sees, with many of them being a misdemeanor or minor-level offenses. Not to mention, these “offenders” are overwhelmingly Black, with the system continuing to adhere to the systemic racism it was built upon.
By allowing small amounts of cannabis to be decriminalized, the possibility of unjust arrests such as these is drastically lowered. While this doesn’t undo all of the disparity the war on drugs has created, it is a step forward.
The MORE Act will allow for the power of the states to decide how they want to control and regulate cannabis usage. With so many states continuing to legalize cannabis either medically or recreationally, there’s a good chance many of these states would enact fairer, more just marijuana-related laws.
As we mentioned, the MORE Act passed through the House of Representatives this past week. The vote was 228-164, showing clear favor for this revolutionary cannabis bill. However, there is strong evidence that this bill, at least in its current form, will not make it through the Senate.
Currently, the Senate is composed of primarily Republican representatives, many of which have been openly opposed to marijuana legalization. Not to mention, the timing of the bill is less than savory. Right now, many political leaders are primarily focused on legislation surrounding COVID-19. Bringing up cannabis decriminalization right now, Republicans claim, is simply a “distraction,” and not an issue worth deciding on at the moment. Because of this, many believe that the MORE Act is destined to die in the Senate.
But, for many, COVID-19 has not stopped unfair drug arrests and inappropriate treatment. While the bill does come at a somewhat untimely opportunity, its significance is still just as crucial, and that’s what many Democrats are trying to convey. For the lives of so, so many, a bill like this one can’t just wait. That is exactly why it is still being pushed in even such tumultuous times and will continue to be discussed until actual progress is made.
Though the response in the House was hugely promising for the future of the MORE Act, the response from other parties is simply disheartening. There is a chance that with some amendments, this bill could become less intimidating for the Republican party than it is now. However, lessening this act’s significance will only keep our drug laws in limbo, never moving forward.
Now, everyone here in the cannabis community just has to be patient. None of us are sure of what the future holds, but it’s clear that cannabis legislation is something that’s not going to go away. Even during a global pandemic, people are still fighting every day for the rights of those who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
We can only hope that the MORE Act and the incredible proposals it offers continue to be fought for. Revolutionary decisions such as these are crucial to the future of cannabis and criminal justice reform, and this legislation is just the start. Even if the MORE Act doesn’t get any further than with the House, there’s a large chance that this will spark even more bills regarding cannabis decriminalization and, hopefully, legalization.