House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris are introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and repair “the damage done by the war on drugs” as cannabis reform gains steam in Congress.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or the MORE Act, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing the drug and allowing states to write their own policies. The legislation would require pot convictions to be expunged or resentenced.
It would also create federal protections, such as prohibiting federal agencies from denying benefits to people found using marijuana and preventing immigrants from being deported for a cannabis-related conviction. The bill establishes a 5% cannabis tax to set up grants for minorities and low-income communities.
“Racially motivated enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionately impacted communities of color,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “It’s past time to right this wrong nationwide and work to view marijuana use as an issue of personal choice and public health, not criminal behavior.”
In focusing on decriminalization and social and criminal justice reforms, supporters call the bill the “most comprehensive” such bill yet. Lawmaker are increasingly interested in easing the nation’s marijuana laws. Eleven states have legalized recreational use. A Gallup poll conducted in the spring found 64% of Americans support legalization.