We’ve written here many times about the chilling effect on the cannabis industry of the continued treatment of marijuana as a controlled substance at the federal level. It’s a state of affairs that leaves banks and other financial institutions unwilling to do business with cannabis-related concerns, and that in turn has hampered economic growth industry-wide.
While legislation to rectify the situation was introduced in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be tabled (along with many other things, presumably). Now, though, there may finally be some forward progress: The U.S. House of Representatives is now slated to vote on September 21 on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, or the MORE Act.
The main thrust of the MORE Act is to deschedule cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances, of course. But the Act further attempts to correct some of the systemic wrongdoing associated with the criminalization of marijuana, prohibiting the denial of certain benefits on the basis of cannabis-related convictions, and establishing a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review for charges related to federal cannabis offenses.
In the semantics department, the MORE Act replaces all statutory references to “marijuana” (and the old-school “marihuana”) with “cannabis.”
More significantly, the Act establishes a trust fund to support programs and services in communities impacted by the war on drugs (and imposes a 5% tax on cannabis products to fund the effort). It also makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to legitimate cannabis operations, opening a door that has long been closed.
While passage of the MORE Act in the House isn’t unlikely, the bill faces a far more uncertain future in the Senate. We’re glad, though, to see some momentum on this front … it’s long overdue.