In a landscape where cannabis reform is gaining momentum across the nation, the lack of substantive action from our elected representatives is becoming increasingly frustrating for advocates and citizens alike. Despite the introduction of several bills aimed at advancing cannabis reform, the apparent reluctance to address these crucial issues head-on leaves us questioning the commitment of our elected officials to the will of the people.
The Bills Left on the Shelf
Numerous bills related to cannabis reform have been introduced, covering a range of topics from decriminalization and medicinal use to comprehensive regulatory frameworks. Yet, these bills seem to have been relegated to the back burner, gathering dust as our representatives prioritize other legislative matters.
Now that we’ve got a wide-angle snapshot of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, let’s get to the meat and potatoes, shall we?
In my last two posts, we examined the bulk of what the MORE Act seeks to accomplish and why it matters to Kentuckians. This week, to wrap things up, we’ll delve into the proposals within the legislation that seek to facilitate expansion of the cannabis industry, ensure equity in the marketplace, and address the carnage that half a century of abominable drug policy has left in its wake.
The MORE Act begins with the creation of the Opportunity Trust Fund, financed through the imposition of a 5% tax on the sale of products containing or made from cannabis. The tax levy will increase annually by 1% until a maximum of 8% is reached. Additionally, the bill would authorize the creation of the Cannabis Justice Office (CJO) within the U.S. Department of Justice. The primary responsibilities of the CJO are to establish, implement and oversee the Community Reinvestment Grant program. Under this program, grants would become available to organizations that provide services to people who have suffered due to the tyranny of prohibitionist lunacy. Specifically, the bill lists job training, re-entry services, legal aid (including cannabis conviction expungement), literacy programs, youth recreation or mentoring programs, and health education programs as focal points. The CJO, in concert with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), would also be directed to provide grants aimed at providing substance abuse treatment services to those adversely affected by the costly, failed drug war.
"We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily…[w]e could…vilify them night after night on the evening news.
Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did." --Nixon advisor John Ehrlichman
It was on June 17, 1971 that Richard Nixon officially declared war, a War on Drugs, ostensibly something we could and should all be able to get behind. History has shown, however, that reality doesn’t jive with the huckster’s pitch we were spoon fed. The war, in fact, was never on drugs. The war was, and is, a racist, politically motivated strategy to silence and disenfranchise dissenters by circumventing laws that protect their civil rights. Add in a dash of class warfare and a boatload of funding during the Reagan regime and what you have is a cynical assault on the very foundations of the American Experiment that has raged for half a century.