MORE Act Reaches Congress and May Legalize Marijuana Federally

September 29, 2023

A ranking member of the House of Representatives reintroduced a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana on the federal level. This bill has returned to the U.S. Congress and intends to broaden the legalization of the restricted substance. The sponsoring U.S. House Judiciary Committee member is Representative Jerry Nader. 

Rep. Nader has introduced H.R. 5601, also known as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, And Expungement (MORE) Act. According to legislators, the Act remains unchanged from when it passed the House in 2020. The MORE Act intends to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances. 

Proposed Effect

The Representatives also want it to eliminate any criminal penalties associated with marijuana. The law would also create a new system of taxation for cannabis products. Over five calendar years, the taxes would rise from 5% to 8%. The revenue gained from these taxes would go to an “Opportunity Trust Fund.” 

According to legislators, part of the funds would go toward assisting communities impacted by weed prohibition. Examples of such include communities of color taking part in the cannabis market. The U.S. Attorney General’s office would also gain access to this fund to carry out functions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.

In addition to legalizing and creating new regulations to govern the substance, the MORE Act would be retroactive. According to the legislation, it would automatically expunge arrests, charges, and convictions for cannabis-related offenses. These expungements would occur at no cost to the affected individuals. 

Furthermore, the MORE Act would create non-discrimination protections for marijuana use. It would also protect employees and applicants from discrimination due to prior convictions for marijuana offenses. These protections include:

  • Prohibiting denial of federal public benefits based on current use or possession of marijuana and prior marijuana-related convictions.
  • Clarifying that the use or possession of marijuana or past convictions for marijuana-related offenses will not adversely impact applicants or employees under immigration laws.

Process So Far

This law previously achieved passage in the House of Representatives before the Senate stalled it out in 2020. Resubmitting the MORE Act means it must once again pass through the House and reenter the Senate for approval. Unfortunately, its chances remain uncertain.

Regardless of its success, employers should consider reviewing hiring policies. They should also reconsider procedures regarding convictions related to cannabis use and eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment. One way to start is by partnering with a trusted employment screening provider. The right partner will use their experience to provide fair and accurate reports.

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