In December 2020, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act became first major cannabis reform to be passed in the US at the federal level when it was approved by the House of Representatives 228-164. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, it was never taken up by the Senate. On May 28 of this year, it was reintroduced by House Judiciary Chairman and sponsor of the bill, Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10). Due to a voter-imposed change in management, it seems likely that the legislation will make the Senate floor during this session. While proponents of the bill still face an uphill battle due to the continued orthodoxy of partisan obstructionism, the fact that nearly 70% of Americans support legalization provides a modicum of hope that the Senate can find a way to overcome the gridlock has become the defining characteristic of the American legislative process. If ever there was an issue with more potential for coalition building, I haven’t seen it in my lifetime.
At this point, you are probably asking questions like, “But what does this legislation actually DO,” or “What does this potentially mean for KY?” The short answer to both of those questions is “A lot.” As with any legislation, the MORE act seeks to implement a number of reforms. First and foremost, marijuana would be declassified as a controlled substance. This declassification is crucial for the burgeoning American cannabis industry to exist and thrive within the framework of the national economy and for its entry into the international marketplace. The bill also attempts to preemptively address possible barriers to entry into the market as well as ensuring equity of opportunity in the industry for marginalized groups. The MORE Act contains proposals which are aimed at repairing much of the damage done to communities and individuals as a result of the disastrous War on Drugs. Similarly, it would provide funding directed at combating the explosion in opioid and amphetamine abuse that has swept from coast to coast, spreading devastation like a societal wildfire, particularly among our most marginalized and underprivileged communities.
The MORE Act is an expansive attempt to overhaul our nation’s current drug policy with regard to cannabis. Over the course of my next several posts, I will be analyzing with more specificity the proposals contained within the bill through the eyes of a proud Kentuckian. It is my intent to highlight the potential importance of this legislation to the vitality and prosperity of our beloved commonwealth. It is important to remember that as big a step as the MORE Act is, it is realistically only the beginning for Kentuckians. The fight for cannabis reform will not end on the floor of the House, nor the Senate. And it will not be brought to an end with the stroke of a pen in the oval office. The fight will continue on the floor of the statehouse, in county fiscal courts, and in city council meetings from the mountains of Appalachia to the banks of the Mississippi. Even if it is passed, the MORE Act is not the end of the journey, it is merely a potential highpoint on our long march toward liberty and equity. It is imperative that we, as citizens, get involved, be active, and make our voices heard. Above all, remember how far we’ve come, even if we still have ground to cover.
To learn about the MORE Act CLICK HERE.
Kentucky NORML is a nonprofit organization working towards cannabis reform in Kentucky by sponsoring educational programs about the protection of veterans and patient's rights and the costs of cannabis prohibition.
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