Congress is working hard once again to pass legislation that could decriminalize marijuana. The bill, known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act or MORE Act has passed the House of Representatives. It now goes on to the Senate, where bills of this nature sadly, often die.
While we all sit with our fingers crossed for change to happen, the MORE Act is particularly impressive. What’s more, representatives in both parties voted ‘for’ it. It passed the House with a final vote of 220-204.
What the MORE Act could do
This piece of legislation isn’t just a simple legalize marijuana statement. It’s a thoughtful approach to decriminalizing marijuana, which is still labeled as a controlled substance at the federal level. Although some states have already legalized marijuana, the country does not yet recognize it as legal. This means its recreational sale is only possible within a set amount of states.
The MORE Act itself wants to:
- Remove marijuana from the controlled substances list
- Provide the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration with funds to make it possible to test whether a driver is impaired by marijuana
- Start a federal study to look at marijuana and the workplace
What would happen if marijuana wasn’t a controlled substance
If the MORE Act passes into law, marijuana would no longer have a controlled substance designation at the federal level. Instead, the states would have the ability to set their own laws.
Even more substantial, this move would release people currently incarcerated for specific cannabis-related offenses. Anyone who went to jail for less than 30 grams would get released. Criminal penalties for manufacturing, distributing, and even possessing, under this limit, would also get expunged.
Fixing the mess that was the ‘war on drugs’
Removing marijuana from the controlled substances list would be one step toward repairing the disproportionate impact the compound has had on communities of color. Black people today are over 3.5 times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession. This occurs although usage rates between Black and white people is pretty comparable.
Issues don’t end with the release from prison either. Other disparities make it hard to rebound from this type of offense.
The opportunity to release specific individuals from prison with a clean slate could help reverse the ill effects of the ‘war on drugs.’ This policy began in the 70’s with President Richard Nixon. It ramped up in the 80’s under President Ronald Reagan.
The importance of studying marijuana’s effects
Due to it still being illegal on the federal level, proper studies into how marijuana affects people’s performance still lags behind. We see so many studies showing the benefits of the compound, as well as its cousin, hemp. Yet, not as much information is out there on how it affects you when you’re driving and when you’re at work.
The $10 million research fund, distributed via two different amendments, would provide capital to increase study. A part looks at the technologies law enforcement officials could use to determine if marijuana impairs driving. Another part will support a federal study looking at the impact of legalizing marijuana at work.
The country is already in line with legislation like this
Marijuana-forward legislation continues to stall out at the federal level. But, it is obvious states are in line with this type of thinking. To date, 18 states, and Washington, D.C., have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Seventy-four percent of U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana.
The states aren’t keeping their opinions to themselves. Maybe the federal government should catch up.
The rules are changing all the time
The MORE Act isn’t the only piece of marijuana legislation up for debate. As this topic gains traction, more bills are in development. Our representatives are trying to make change.
To stay on top of the latest news within the cannabis industry, check out Arbor Vita8’s robust resource center. We provide relevant information for farmers, manufacturers, and consumers in addition to being a top-rate processor and retailer ourselves. With questions about our wholesale products or our seed-to-sale services, or even to visit our online store, contact us today.