The MORE Act
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, otherwise known as the MORE Act, is federal legislation that seeks to decriminalize marijuana. Currently, possession of marijuana is a federal offense and can be prosecuted as such.
How Can States Already Legalize Marijuana?
Although possession of marijuana is a federal offense, states are rapidly legalizing the substance for both medical and recreational use. States can do this thanks to two Obama-era memos that give outlines to the states for legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana. These memos essentially permit states to legalize marijuana under certain conditions, such as making it illegal for minors to possess it.
Proponents against legalizing marijuana where it is illegal, like here in Nebraska, argue that we should not legalize it because it is already illegal on the federal level. Although true, the federal government allows states to largely govern themselves, which is why states like Colorado can legalize and regulate marijuana on their own terms.
What Does the MORE Act Do?
To really understand what the MORE Act does, it is important to first understand what it does not do. The MORE Act does not legalize marijuana throughout the country. Rather, it decriminalizes marijuana on the federal level. If passed, the MORE Act would put marijuana on a similar legal stance as alcohol, where states can decide whether it should be legal and how much of it should be allowed.
How Does the Government Benefit?
States that legalize marijuana can tax the product as they please. The MORE Act allows the federal government to take its piece of the pie and impose a 5% tax on marijuana products. This tax will ideally be used to improve communities impacted by the War on Drugs among other things, like improving small businesses to help people of lower-income get started in the industry.
What Happens to People Who Have Already Been Arrested for Marijuana?
For people caught with marijuana, the penalties can be quite severe. Some states are not afraid to prosecute someone with felony charges even for a first offense. The prosecution laws vary from state to state, but the states have the right to prosecute with felony charges, and those stay with a person for the rest of their life. The MORE Act expunges those with felony convictions. This means it not only pardons the felony, but it completely erases it from the permanent record. So, if an employer is doing a background check on someone with a felony due to possession of marijuana, that record would not show up if this act was passed.
What is the Status of the MORE Act?
Currently, the MORE Act is passing through the necessary House of Representative Committees. If it passes through those, it will be sent to the full House for a vote. If the House of Representatives approves, the bill will be sent to the Senate to start the process all over again. If the Senate approves the bill, it will go to the President’s desk for signing. If the President signs the bill, the MORE Act will become law and marijuana legislation in the US will drastically change.
For now, marijuana is still a federal crime and a state crime in many states, including Nebraska. If you are facing criminal charges related to marijuana possession or distribution, call an experienced marijuana lawyer at Berry Law today.