Cannabis may be decriminalized at the federal level, but the damage the “war on drugs” caused to disenfranchised communities will take a long time to undo. A recent NBC News article discussed a bill reintroduced by congressional leaders designed to jumpstart the process. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (aka the MORE Act), intends to eliminate criminal penalties, clear criminal records, and create social equity programs to repair damage to people and communities affected by decades of prohibition.
The bill didn’t gain much steam in the Senate last year, but a second Senate bill is expected later this year with the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden. The new draft of the bill is stronger than its predecessor, and removed language that would have denied federal permit to applicants with felony cannabis convictions. It would also add a 5% tax on retail cannabis sales that would raise to 8% over three years. The money would go to the Opportunity Trust Fund, which pays for job training, re-entry services, legal aid and health education programs for affected communities.