Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives made history with the passing of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The bill removes cannabis from the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act schedule, effectively decriminalizing it nationally and allowing individual states to regulate their own markets. It also calls for the reinvestment of tax money from cannabis into community grants for job training, youth recreation and other programs in areas hit hardest by prohibition.
And while the passing of the bill was lauded by many cannabis advocates and executives, others feel it doesn’t go far enough in creating a fair industry for everyone. Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary spoke to leadership figures in the cannabis equity movement to learn about the specific issues with the MORE Act.
Breaking Down the MORE Act’s Shortcomings
Although the bill represents a significant step in federal cannabis legislation, experts identified four specific points where its provisions fall short of establishing an industry accessible to everyone:
A late-added provision in the bill would prevent anyone with even a pending felony charge from getting a license in the cannabis industry. Cannabis equity advocates in Congress, such as Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), expressed displeasure at the last-minute addition, but stopped short of pulling the bill from a full floor vote.
Amber Littlejohn, executive director of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), said the organization was able to ensure this add-on would not be present in the final version of the bill that is passed by both chambers of Congress.
“At the last moment, MCBA was able to work with House leadership to get their commitment to ensuring the exclusion would not stand and impacted communities would remain at the forefront of any future legislation,” Littlejohn wrote in an email to Cannabis