Already, 18 states and Washington D.C have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. However, this has created a patchwork of state laws across the United States. The goal of the MORE Act is to legalize cannabis at the federal level and leave it up to states to reform, regulate, and standardize their related laws.
The MORE Act passed the House in July 2019 but failed to pass the Senate. In May 2021, the MORE Act was re-introduced and passed the House once again. It currently remains in the Senate, where it still sits at the time of writing.
The fact that the MORE Act has attracted such attention reflects on the general public’s desire to support the recreational use of cannabis. Around 60% of Americans support the use of recreational cannabis. This creates widespread endorsement of the MORE Act.
Even if the MORE Act fails to pass the Senate for a second time, it is likely just a question of time for another version to get approved, thus de-scheduling marijuana from Schedule 1 substances.
What Is the Current Regulatory Framework for Marijuana across the United States?
Industrial Hemp, which currently gives us CBD, was legalized with the 2018 Farm Bill. This made CBD production, sale, and transportation legal across all 50 states. As long as CBD is produced from industrial Hemp and contains less than 0.3% of THC, it is legal to consume and purchase.
However, the same is not true of marijuana. While marijuana and Industrial Hemp are closely related plants and belong to the same species, marijuana contains increased levels of THC, which is the psychotropic and hallucinogenic cannabinoid compound. Industrial Hemp has been selectively bred to produce plants that have very little THC.
Because of THC’s effects, marijuana has remained illegal since the 1930s and only 18 states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont have legalized its recreational use.
What Is Included in the MORE Act?
Legalization of Marijuana
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) plans on de-scheduling cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance. This would normalize the legal framework of marijuana consumption and would even out discrepancies across states.
By de-scheduling marijuana at the federal level, the MORE Act leaves it up to each state to reform state laws when it comes to marijuana.
Taxation of Marijuana
The MORE Act proposes a 5% federal tax on all cannabis sales. This would establish a level playing field when it comes to taxing marijuana production and sale. For example, Colorado currently has a 2.9% sales tax on recreational marijuana as well as a 15% tax when cannabis is sold between cannabis grower and seller. By introducing a single tax, the MORE Act normalizes and regulates the sale of marijuana. With the expected increased sales, this would bring in more money for the government.
Helping Communities Harmed from Drug Wars
With the 5% tax, the MORE Act wants to reinvest in communities that are disproportionately affected by drug wars. This means more money for community health education, job training, and job opportunities as well as helping and mentoring youths away from drugs and into productive and creative purposes of life.
Expungement of Marijuana-Related Offenses
The MORE Act includes the expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses, even past ones. This would mean that the MORE Act would work retroactively to expunge low-level cannabis-related offenses. Again, this has a social component to it, as minorities are asymmetrically affected and have a higher rate of incarceration for cannabis-related offenses.
Why Is the MORE Act Important?
The MORE Act holds the promise to lift a ban on a cannabinoid that has been targeted by the law for decades.
It also offers the opportunity for various cannabinoids to be more widely available. Currently, cannabinoids that are produced from cannabis are illegal. Only CBD produced from Industrial Hemp is legal according to the 2018 Farm Bill. However, CBD can also be produced from cannabis. While the former is legal, the latter is not—even if it contains less than 0.3% of THC.
This has created gray zones and complications, including ambiguity about compounds like Delta-8.
The MORE Act would clarify such issues and standardize the production and sale of cannabinoids.
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