You’ve probably heard by now about the MORE Act, passed by the United States House of Representatives just after Thanksgiving. The MORE – Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement – Act would decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level, which as we’ve noted here many times would unshackle the legal cannabis industry in many ways.
So what does that mean? Is this finally the moment the industry has been waiting for, and just in time for the holidays? Hmmm … maybe not.
First, note the word ‘decriminalize,’ not ‘legalize.’ Marijuana would technically remain illegal, but the criminal justice system at the federal level would decline to prosecute possession in small amounts. The idea there is to keep prohibitions in place for those who would deal illegally in cannabis.
But decriminalization would in all likelihood have the result the industry needs: that is, that banks and other financial institutions would finally get on board with financing industry growth and providing other services. Decriminalization would get that done, and would be a huge industry shot in the arm.
Will it happen? Probably not this time. The Senate, historically opposed to such measures, is unlikely to consider the MORE Act, which would then expire with this session of Congress. And so the House would have to start rolling that same rock up the hill yet again.
The incoming administration is believed to be more receptive to the idea of decriminalization than the outgoing one, which is significant since the President would have to sign any bill into law. But the process will have to begin again and wind its way through Congress first.
So for now: No, Virginia, there is not a Santa Claus for the cannabis industry this time around.