The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 would decriminalize marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at a federal level and implement retroactive and proactive measures to reflect this new legal status.
Specifically, the MORE Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA, 21 U.S.C 801 et seq.) to entirely remove marijuana and THC from the schedules of controlled substances. Though many US states have decriminalized or otherwise legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, marijuana remains a Schedule I substance with “no accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse” at the federal level as of December 2019. Accordingly, descheduling marijuana and THC would remove all possibilities for marijuana-related federal offenses, including mandatory minimum sentences for manufacturing, distributing, and dispensing marijuana and THC, and charges for possessing paraphernalia.
The proposed amendments to the CSA would be retroactively applicable to prior cannabis-related offenses, prior adjudications, and pending criminal cases. Federal district courts would accordingly be directed to review and, where appropriate, reduce or expunge cannabis-related convictions for individuals serving criminal sentences. Likewise, individuals who are not currently serving sentences would automatically have their past marijuana-related convictions expunged.
In addition, the MORE Act would impose a 5% sales tax on all cannabis products manufactured in or imported into states that have legalized marijuana. These tax revenues would be used to establish an "Opportunity Trust Fund" in the US Treasury, which would finance the establishment and operation of the following programs in states that have legalized marijuana:
- The Community Reinvestment Grant Program would administer funds to nonprofits that assist communities disenfranchised by past drug-enforcement actions through services like vocational training, legal aid, youth programs, health education, and evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders.
- The Cannabis Opportunity Program would direct the Small Business Administration to provide funds to states and localities for the purpose of supporting the development of small cannabis businesses owned and operated by disenfranchised populations.
- The Equitable Licensing Grant Program would provide financial assistance to states and localities seeking to establish cannabis licensing programs, on the condition that administrators take steps to mitigate discrimination in licensing practices through actions like waiving fees for license applications or avoiding license denials for individuals with prior cannabis convictions.
The MORE Act would additionally amend the Small Business Act (at 15 U.S.C. 632) to prohibit various programs administered by the Small Business Administration from denying services or financial assistance, such as loans, to cannabis-related business owners and employees. Furthermore, the Act would forbid federal agencies from denying individuals access to federal public benefits, security clearances, or protection under immigration laws solely on the basis of previous cannabis-related offenses.