November 20, 2019 marked a monumental day in the prohibition of cannabis. The House Judiciary Committee (1) approved a bill that would federally decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act and expunge particular crimes related to marijuana.
First introduced on July 23, 2019, by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, H.R. 3884 (2), aims “to decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.”
"I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake,” said Nadler. “While states have led the way in reform, our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change. With the passage of the MORE Act today, the Judiciary Committee has taken long overdue steps to address the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs and to finally decriminalize marijuana at the federal level."
In a statement from NORML (3), Executive Director Erik Altieri stated that this was a truly historic moment in our nation’s political history. “For the first time, a Congressional committee has approved far-reaching legislation to not just put an end to federal marijuana prohibition, but to address the countless harms our prohibitionist policies have wrought, notably on communities of color and other already marginalized groups,” he said.
“Opposition to our failed war on marijuana has reached a boiling point with over two-thirds of all Americans, including majorities of all political persuasions, now supporting legalization,” said Altieri. “Congress should respect the will of the people and promptly approve the MORE Act and close this dark chapter of failed public policy.”
Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, also explained in NORML's statement (3) that in 2018 663,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. “The passage of the MORE Act represents the first time that the Judiciary Committee has ever had a successful vote to end the cruel policy of marijuana criminalization,” he said. “Not only does the bill reverse the failed prohibition of cannabis, but it provides pathways for opportunity and ownership in the emerging industry for those who have suffered most."