House Committee Greenlights Cannabis Legalization Bill

House Committee Greenlights Cannabis Legalization Bill

On September 30, 2021, the House Judiciary Committee advanced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE Act)...

On September 30, 2021, the House Judiciary Committee advanced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE Act). The committee approved the bill by a vote of 26-15, with two Republicans joining the Democratic majority.

The MORE Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), previously cleared the House Judicial Committee in 2019. It went on to pass in the full House before failing to advance in the Senate. With Democrats in control of both chambers, sponsors of the bill are more optimistic this time around.

“This is the most comprehensive piece of cannabis legislation Congress has ever seen, and continuing its momentum couldn’t be more important to our fight to address the fact that Congress continues to lag behind 37 states that have legalized either adult-use or medical cannabis,” Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a press statement. “We will continue to build a broad coalition of support in Congress and work closely with our allies in the Senate to put forth a successful framework to finally reform our outdated, out-of-touch cannabis laws, because it’s time for Congress to catch up with the American people.”

Cannabis Reforms Under the MORE Act

The MORE Act would decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA); it would also allow individual states to decide the status of marijuana legality within their borders. Additionally, the legislation requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions and re-sentence offenders currently under supervision, with the states able to determine whether to establish their own policies on retroactivity.

The MORE Act would also impose a five percent tax on cannabis products manufactured in the United States or imported into the country. The cannabis tax would not be imposed on hemp products or any prescribed medicine or drug. The tax revenue would be used to fund a grant program, known as the “Community Reinvestment Grant Program,” which would provide services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment.

The tax funds would also be used to establish the Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program. Administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the new grant program would provide funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The Equitable Licensing Grant Program, also administered by SBA, would provide funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.

Additional provisions of the MORE Act would:

  • Provide funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • Allocate funds to programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Authorize SBA funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
  • Create non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense.
  • Prohibit the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense.
  • Establish that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
  • Require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.

What’s Next?

The MORE Act must still garner the approval of eight more House Committees before heading to the House floor. It then faces potential opposition in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (R-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are working on their own cannabis legislation.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact Dan McKillop, Teddy Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

This article is a part of a series pertaining to cannabis legalization in New Jersey and the United States at large. Prior articles in this series are below:

Disclaimer: Possession, use, distribution, and/or sale of cannabis is a Federal crime and is subject to related Federal policy. Legal advice provided by Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC is designed to counsel clients regarding the validity, scope, meaning, and application of existing and/or proposed cannabis law. Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC will not provide assistance in circumventing Federal or state cannabis law or policy, and advice provided by our office should not be construed as such.


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AboutDaniel T. McKillop

Dan McKillop has more than fifteen years of experience representing corporate and individual clients in complex environmental litigation and regulatory proceedings before state and federal courts and environmental agencies arising under numerous state and federal statutes.Full Biography

AboutEdward "Teddy" Eynon

Edward “Teddy” Eynon is Managing Partner of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Washington, D.C. office. Teddy regularly represents clients in numerous government-related matters, including public policy, energy and environment, budget, defense, healthcare, financial services, transportation & infrastructure, congressional investigations, and oversight issues.Full Biography

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House Committee Greenlights Cannabis Legalization Bill

House Committee Greenlights Cannabis Legalization Bill
Author: Daniel T. McKillop, Edward "Teddy" Eynon

On September 30, 2021, the House Judiciary Committee advanced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE Act). The committee approved the bill by a vote of 26-15, with two Republicans joining the Democratic majority.

The MORE Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), previously cleared the House Judicial Committee in 2019. It went on to pass in the full House before failing to advance in the Senate. With Democrats in control of both chambers, sponsors of the bill are more optimistic this time around.

“This is the most comprehensive piece of cannabis legislation Congress has ever seen, and continuing its momentum couldn’t be more important to our fight to address the fact that Congress continues to lag behind 37 states that have legalized either adult-use or medical cannabis,” Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a press statement. “We will continue to build a broad coalition of support in Congress and work closely with our allies in the Senate to put forth a successful framework to finally reform our outdated, out-of-touch cannabis laws, because it’s time for Congress to catch up with the American people.”

Cannabis Reforms Under the MORE Act

The MORE Act would decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA); it would also allow individual states to decide the status of marijuana legality within their borders. Additionally, the legislation requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions and re-sentence offenders currently under supervision, with the states able to determine whether to establish their own policies on retroactivity.

The MORE Act would also impose a five percent tax on cannabis products manufactured in the United States or imported into the country. The cannabis tax would not be imposed on hemp products or any prescribed medicine or drug. The tax revenue would be used to fund a grant program, known as the “Community Reinvestment Grant Program,” which would provide services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment.

The tax funds would also be used to establish the Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program. Administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the new grant program would provide funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The Equitable Licensing Grant Program, also administered by SBA, would provide funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.

Additional provisions of the MORE Act would:

  • Provide funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • Allocate funds to programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Authorize SBA funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
  • Create non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense.
  • Prohibit the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense.
  • Establish that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
  • Require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.

What’s Next?

The MORE Act must still garner the approval of eight more House Committees before heading to the House floor. It then faces potential opposition in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (R-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are working on their own cannabis legislation.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact Dan McKillop, Teddy Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

This article is a part of a series pertaining to cannabis legalization in New Jersey and the United States at large. Prior articles in this series are below:

Disclaimer: Possession, use, distribution, and/or sale of cannabis is a Federal crime and is subject to related Federal policy. Legal advice provided by Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC is designed to counsel clients regarding the validity, scope, meaning, and application of existing and/or proposed cannabis law. Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC will not provide assistance in circumventing Federal or state cannabis law or policy, and advice provided by our office should not be construed as such.