Cannabis Deserves MORE: Exploring the ‘Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act’
The United States Congress recently received what, if passed, may someday retroactively be regarded as one of the most important bills in cannabis’ legal history: the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act. The bill, which thankfully shortens into the more manageable acronym “MORE,” is intended to change the entire American cannabis climate in ways that would provide opportunity to those with business or legal concerns, even offering relief to individuals who have been negatively affected by the country’s past criminalization of cannabis.
The MORE Act is the brainchild of Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). The introduction of such a potentially controversial change is something of a bold move, particularly for Harris, who is preparing for a 2020 presidential run. The bill, first announced on July 23rd, is described by the pair as “one of the most comprehensive marijuana law bills ever introduced in the US Congress.” But how exactly would the MORE Act deliver on such lofty promises?
Nadler and Harris’ bill wastes no time in articulating its goals via an unavoidable call-to-action, presented to the 116th Congress as a series of changes intended,
“To 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.”
The MORE Act first looks to decriminalize cannabis federally. Doing so would require cannabis’ reclassification or removal from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively providing the alternative medicine with a fresh, legal face. The bill then goes further into legal territory to address past criminal convictions related to cannabis, allowing those penalized for use or possession to request that their criminal records be expunged. The bill would then allow individuals dealing with cannabis possession convictions to re-apply for public benefits--benefits currently withheld from those convicted of cannabis-related crimes.
Even better, the Marijuana Opportunity, Revinstement and Expungement act would actually offer reparations to Americans who have been negatively affected by cannabis’ long term criminalization. By imposing a 5% sales tax on cannabis and derived products, the MORE Act would establish an Opportunity Trust Fund to provide economic support for “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals ... that operate in the cannabis industry.” In a press release issued the same day as the bill’s announcement, Senator Harris delivered a precise and comprehensive overview:
“Times have changed — marijuana should not be a crime. We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives. As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone — especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry. I am thrilled to work with Chairman Nadler on this timely and important step toward racial and economic justice.”
Where’s This Going?
Following the introduction of the MORE Act, which would effectively further legalization efforts and offer constructive opportunities and benefits to those harmed by the ‘War on Drugs,’ Representative Nadler has been diligently calling out peers and fellow Americans in an attempt to drive formative attention to the bill. In a statement provided to NORML, Nadler wrote:
"America has a moral responsibility to pass my legislation to end the prohibition of marijuana and take on the oppression at the heart of the War on Drugs … My bill, The MORE Act, is the most comprehensive marijuana reform bill ever introduced, and it’s backed by a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups.”
More aggressively, Nadler points a finger toward those behind the resilient barriers to cannabis’ full legalization in the United States:
“The criminalization of marijuana is a mistake and caused grave harm, disproportionately to those who are poor or people of color, and we must take action.”
Of course, Nadler and Harris both expect a long and complicated journey for the MORE Act. Despite many calling the 116th Congress the “most marijuana-friendly in history,” there are still those who stand fervently against the legalization and spread of cannabis throughout the country. Still, the journey is more likely to result in success than ever before. One need only look to the virtual tsunami of CBD products sweeping across the nation, the ongoing feed of cannabis-positive reporting, and the increased appreciation for cannabis’ medical capabilities to recognize that the level of opportunity is far beyond what it may have been years ago. Nadler speaks to this in his statement to NORML:
“The hysteria around marijuana is starting to lift as states across the country lead the way in reforming their marijuana laws. It is time for the federal government to follow suit.”
Questions? Bring ‘Em On.
Developments like these, as exciting and potentially world-changing as they may be, can often be a bit tough to make heads or tails of. On one hand, promises are made that could mean enormous positive change for the cannabis industry. On the other hand, the ubiquity of conflicting reports and general uncertainty surrounding cannabis make it difficult to grasp the true nature of things like the legal status and true treatment capabilities of cannabis.
Specialists like myself are always happy to answer questions related to these topics and more within the realm of healthcare and medical cannabis. By providing factual, consistent information, we doctors and industry professionals are able to further our communities’ understanding of a treatment that we know is capable of offering solutions for physical and psychological symptoms. Never hesitate to ask!
If you are considering treatment with medical cannabis for physical or mental symptom relief, or if you have any questions about hemp or cannabis use as part of a holistic approach towards achieving better overall wellness, be sure to first discuss your health goals with Doctor Jane or your licensed medical cannabis physician. There are many factors involved in determining whether cannabis is the appropriate course of action and developing a proper treatment plan. You can schedule a consultation for a time and location that is convenient for you using our website, or reach out to me directly via phone or text at (561) 406-0685.
Today’s blog post is written by Rick Liogier-Weyback, MD, founder and president at Doctor Jane and our licensed medical cannabis physician. If you are considering cannabis treatment or are wondering if medical cannabis may be right for you, please contact our team at your earliest convenience.
About Doctor Jane
Doctor Jane is South Florida’s most discreet, professional, and convenient concierge medical cannabis practice. Dr. Luis Enrique R. Liogier-Weyback and his wife, Katie Liogier-Weyback, B.S., R.N., founded Doctor Jane on the core tenets of bringing personal, convenient, professional and discreet patient care to the medical cannabis treatment process. Doctor Jane provides South Florida patients and their caregivers with a safe space where they can exercise their right to access medical cannabis therapy in an environment of their choosing, free from stigma and complications.
Visit our website to find out more or to schedule your own medical cannabis consultation. www.DoctorJane.net.