Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01)
December 4, 2020
Washington, D.C. – As the New Mexico Legislature eyes opportunities to decriminalize recreational marijuana in the 2021 session, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) voted to pass a historic bill in Congress that would decriminalize marijuana and reverse failed drug policies that disproportionately impact communities of color. Haaland is also an original co-sponsor of this bill. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 – H.R. 3884 aims to repair damage done to communities of color and low-income communities by requiring resentencing and expungement of prior convictions. Disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, people of color will be able to receive resources to take advantage of the new marijuana markets. Immigrants will no longer be subject to deportation or citizenship denial based on a prior marijuana offense. Juvenile offenders will also be able to benefit from all protections included in the new law.
“Minor drug offenses shouldn’t ruin people’s lives, but the failed drug policies in this country tear families apart and target communities of color. I’ve seen the damage done. The MORE Act is the first step to addressing policies that criminalize people of color. As a co-sponsor of this bill, I’m proud to take this step and I hope my colleagues in the Senate will take a stand for justice so it goes to the President’s desk,” said Congresswoman Haaland, a member of the Cannabis Caucus.
Over the last two decades, many states have been passing marijuana reform laws that change how marijuanause is regulated in their state. As of now, a total of 47 states have reformed their laws pertaining to marijuanause in one way or another. And yet, the federal government has passed no reform laws, with federal law criminalizing marijuana since 1937.
Specifically, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act will:
- Decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act. This applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions, and enables states to set their own policy.
- Require federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allows prior offenders to request expungement, and requires courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
- Authorize the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund
- Open up Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
- Provide non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense
- Require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.
Earlier in her first term, Representative Haaland introduced the first Tribal cannabis amendment ever offered and passed on the House floor. The amendment, introduced as part of the Fiscal Year ’20 Department of Justice (DOJ) funding package, protects Tribal cannabis programs from interference from the DOJ.