House Must Swiftly Pass Comprehensive Marijuana Reform to Ensure Communities Don’t Have to Wait a Moment More for Long-Overdue Justice
Washington, D.C.—In response to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer scheduling the MORE Act—the first bill to completely deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and begin to repair the harms of prohibition through expungement, resentencing, community reinvestment and social equity--for a House floor vote, Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“For over half a century, marijuana prohibition has stood as the cornerstone of the cruel and inhumane drug war that has robbed millions of people of their freedom and their livelihoods. The weight of which has disproportionately fallen on the backs of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income communities – who remain its number one target. They've been denied jobs, housing, educational opportunities and far more. They've had their families torn apart. Others have lost their immigration status. And our communities have suffered gravely as a result. But today, thanks to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer’s leadership in scheduling the MORE Act for a floor vote, we have hope that the days of this continued oppression are numbered. We urge their House colleagues to vote in favor of this bill and swiftly pass it to ensure our communities are not put on the backburner and made to wait a moment more for long-overdue justice.”
The MORE Act is the first bill to completely deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, addresses the lifelong consequences of marijuana criminalization, reinvest in communities that have borne the brunt of prohibition, and take steps to ensure an equitable and diverse marketplace.
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.
The 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). Another bill that builds on the MORE Act was unveiled in July 2021 and is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Senators Schumer (D-NY), Booker (D-NJ), and Wyden (D-OR) in the near future.
According to the most recent Gallup public opinion poll, 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization. Thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have laws that allow legal access to medical marijuana, and 18 states plus the District of Columbia and Guam allow legal access to marijuana for adult use. Despite this, the continued enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws are responsible for approximately half a million arrests in the United States every year. Black and Brown people are disproportionately impacted, with Black people specifically being almost 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.