Press Releases

Nadler, Blumenauer, Lee, Jackson Lee and Velázquez Reintroduce Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Legislation

Washington, September 22, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), along with Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 5601), one of the most comprehensive marijuana reform bills ever introduced in the U.S. Congress.
Following efforts led by states across the nation, the MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level. The bill also aims to correct the historical injustices of failed drug policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities by requiring resentencing and expungement of prior convictions. This will create new opportunities for individuals as they work to advance their careers, education, and overall quality of life. The MORE Act also ensures that all benefits in the law are available to juvenile offenders.
“I am proud to reintroduce the MORE Act.  As more states continue to legalize marijuana, we must change federal law to reverse failed policies criminalizing marijuana,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. “The MORE Act would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.  I thank my colleagues, Representatives Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, as well as Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Nydia Velázquez for their work on this legislation as we continue to push for this much-needed change.”
“After fifty years of the failed war on drugs, it is past time for the federal government to catch up with majority of states who have legalized cannabis in some form,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “The MORE Act is the only comprehensive cannabis reform that has passed either chamber of Congress—twice. It is the gold-standard, reflecting the concerns of businesses, researchers and impacted communities alike.”
“It’s no secret that our federal cannabis laws are outdated and out-of-touch,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “Cannabis is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and yet Congress continues to lag behind the 38 states that have legalized either adult-use or medical cannabis. But we can’t just stop with decriminalization. I am proud to co-lead a bill that represents the most progressive, comprehensive piece of cannabis legislation in US history: not only would it decriminalize marijuana, it would expunge marijuana convictions and reinvest in our communities—especially Black communities and those most impacted by the War on Drugs. As Co-Chair of the Cannabis Caucus, I urge my colleagues to support this bill to advance racial justice and bring the federal government into the 21st century.”
"The MORE Act would not only decriminalize marijuana federally, but also take meaningful steps to address the harmful impacts of the federal prohibition, particularly on communities of color, and align federal law with that of many states" said Rep. Jackson Lee, Chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.  "As I have said before, we need to pass the MORE Act as an important component of a broader effort to reform our drug laws, which disproportionately harm racial minorities and fuel over-policing and mass incarceration. That is why I will continue to advance other legislation to achieve comprehensive reform of our criminal justice system."
"For far too long, our communities of color have been over-policed by racially biased practices that have led to a disproportionate amount of unjust marijuana-related arrests," said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee. "It is past time that we right the wrongs of the past by decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level and help heal the communities most hurt by the War on Drugs. I am proud to co-lead the reintroduction of the MORE Act because it will restore justice to our most marginalized communities, and boost our economy."

The MORE Act:

  • Decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act. This applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions, and enables states to set their own policy.
  • Requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allows prior offenders to request expungement, and requires courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
  • Authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund, which includes three grant programs:
    • The Community Reinvestment Grant Program: Provides 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 Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program: Provides 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: Provides funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Opens up Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
  • Provides non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense:
    • Prohibits the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense.
    • Provides that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
  • Requires 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.
The MORE Act has the support of a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups, including: the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Drug Policy Alliance, NORML, Better Organizing to Win Legalization, and Minorities for Medical Marijuana, the Center for American Progress, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
To view the text of the MORE Act, click here.