Drug Policy Alliance Celebrates Clearance of Procedural Hurdle and Urges House to Swiftly Bring Critical Marijuana Reform to the Floor
Washington, D.C. – Today, in response to the House Judiciary Committee again marking up and passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3617), Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“We want to thank House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) for continuing to prioritize the MORE Act and marijuana justice for directly-impacted communities. Justice must not wait. Despite all the progress we have made on reforming state marijuana laws across the country, it tragically still makes up the lion share of drug arrests in this country, resulting in one arrest every 90 seconds in 2020. And it should come as no surprise that it continues to be one of the—if not the single—biggest drivers of racial inequity in the U.S.
“Today’s passage by the House Judiciary Committee sends a clear message that they understand the injustices that have burdened Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities for far too long, and they are committed to doing something about it by moving this legislation forward this session. While it will not undo the pain they have experienced, it is a concrete and tangible step towards repairing the harm, providing new opportunities for participation in the legal market, and ensuring critical reinvestment in these communities. We urge their colleagues to give this the same attention it deserves by swiftly bringing the MORE Act to the House floor for a vote this year.”
DPA has worked tirelessly to move the MORE Act forward since its inception, by working with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and then-Senator Kamala Harris to draft and introduce the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act last session, creating the Marijuana Justice Coalition to build widespread support, and pushing for an initial Judiciary Committee mark-up amid a busy impeachment trial. This collective effort resulted in the MORE Act being passed out of committee in November 2019, passed by the full House in December 2020, and reintroduced this session in May 2021. Throughout, DPA has consistently educated legislators on the inequalities created by marijuana prohibition, which have exacerbated this moment’s intersecting health and racial injustice crises, and continued to build momentum around equitable and just federal reform. At the beginning of 2021, DPA convened the Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group to determine what a federal regulatory framework—grounded in justice and social equity—should look like, and the group released its Principles for Federal Cannabis Regulations & Reform in April 2021.
Last year’s Senate companion bill, S.2227, was introduced by then-Senator Kamala Harris and attracted notable co-sponsors, including Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). And in July, Senators Schumer (D-NY), Booker (D-NJ), and Wyden (D-OR) unveiled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, a Senate marijuana reform bill that builds off of the MORE Act.
According to the most recent Gallup public opinion poll, 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization. Thirty-five states plus the District of Columbia have laws that allow legal access to medical marijuana, 16 states plus the District of Columbia allow legal access to marijuana for adult use, and two additional states—New Mexico and Virginia—have passed legalization, but it has yet to take effect. Despite this, the continued enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws are responsible for more than half a million arrests in the United States every year. Black and Brown people are disproportionately impacted, with Black people specifically being four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than white people despite equal rates of consumption. Marijuana has also been one of the leading causes of deportation in the United States.