A historical first has occurred. The House of Representatives for the first time, passed legislation that would effectively repeal federal marijuana prohibition. It would also completely remove marijuana and THC from the list of scheduled substances.
The MORE Act passed the House with overwhelming support from Democratic House members along with a handful of republicans and Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash.
Passing this through the House for the first time in history seems to indicate legal marijuana could be on the horizon. Support for it has certainly grown over the years. Fifteen states have legalized marijuana to some degree. Meanwhile, thirty-six states adopted medical marijuana programs. According to recent Gallup polls, about 68% of Americans believe marijuana should be fully lega,. Only 8% say it should be completely banned.
Wait! Not So Fast
Those hoping that federal legalization has arrived, however, should hold tight. The bill will likely to languish in the senate with a severe lack of Republican support. Only six Republicans voted for the bill in the House. With a republican held senate, there doesn’t seem to be much hope. Majority leader Mitch McConnell decried even putting the matter on the table. He says we should be focusing on getting COVID relief to Americans while those measures, too, amount to nothing on Capital Hill.
Even moderate Republicans like Thomas Massie have expressed reluctance to support the MORE Act despite his positive stance on ending marijuana prohibition. Why? Taxes, regulations, and other provisions in the bill.
Most die-hard cannabis advocates, upon examining the bill, might agree its provisions aren’t perfect. It does come with taxation and regulations. It arguably fails to do enough for the victims prohibition. Even so, it would end a years-long war on a substance that may actually have many positive effects. It would end a federal policy that has reaped economic harm and mass incarceration for Americans. Here is why more people should consider supporting the MORE Act. Here’s why we should ask our senators to do so.
The More Act Would Deal a Blow to Mass Incarceration
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, our incarcerated population in the United States in 2016 consisted of around 2.3 million. That earned us a title as the country with the largest incarcerated population in the world. In 2018 alone, we had over 1.6 million arrests for drug law violations. 1.4 million of those arrests occurred for possession only. That same year 663,000 of those arrests went forward for marijuana law violations.
The federal bill on the table now would be unlikely to end a majority of prosecutions since they occur at a state level. However, the MORE Act does get the ball rolling in expunging federal records and releasing marijuana offenders from federal prison. It also sends a message to the country. It may encourage states to legalize who no longer have the support of the federal government or the rest of the country in enforcing these laws.
The MORE Act may levy a tax, but it will also release people from prison.
Consider Racial and Other Disparities.
Citing research from the ACLU, the MORE Act notes that marijuana use is equal across the board as far as race is concerned. However, black men are as high as almost four times more likely to be prosecuted for marijuana related crimes. Meanwhile, they receive 13-14% longer sentences. It could also be argued that the violence associated with the war on drugs more adversely affects some geographical communities more than others. It also has disproportionately affected the poor. The war on drugs has led to a cycle of violence, incarceration, and injustice that has affected millions of Americans.
The MORE Act seeks to help individuals and communities adversely affected by the war on drugs, which it notes have not reaped the benefits of current state legalization programs. While it does acknowledge that the majority of these individuals may be members of a minority community, the language of the bill doesn’t strictly define it that way. Eligibility for assistance would go to individuals actually arrested and/or incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses and/or members of their family. In other words, assistance programs would go to individuals and communities actually affected by the drug wars.
Addressing The Economy, Debt, and Welfare Dependence
Understandably, conservatives and libertarians are not known for their love of taxes and regulations. Perhaps, for good reasons. They stomp out opportunities and may stifle market growth. However, a taxed and regulated market, while not ideal, is still better than a black market or no market at all. This is especially true when considering some measures can always be later repealed. At the very least, it is worth addressing the violence and crime along with the public safety matters created by the war on drugs. Since we’ve broached the subject of money, though, let’s talk.
Marijuana sales in 2017, the text of the MORE Act notes, sat at about $9.5 billion. Projections say they will reach $23 billion over the next two years. These numbers could fly even higher if more states legalized and if interstate commerce became possible.
Not only that, but we always hear about welfare dependence. According to the MORE Act, about 40% of the tax revenue would be reinvested in the Small Business Administration. They would then use it for applicable loans, grants, and assistance to individuals targeted by the bill (i.e., our drug war victims)
How many of these individuals are on some form of public assistance? How many of them could and would get off of it if they had the opportunity to start a business and/or pursue endeavors of their own?
We Can’t Afford to NOT Legalize, Pass The MORE Act Now!
We are trillions of dollars in debt. The economy has been suffering, is suffering, and will continue to suffer even more, especially now that we’re feeling the sting of COVID-19. We can argue about taxes and regulations until we go into ruin, but we can also agree on one thing. The markets need as much legitimate money and human activity as they can get if we’re going to stay over the water. We’d be fools not to legalize soon.
The MORE Act would Allow you To Grow Your Own
According to the language of this legislation, taxes and regulations would only apply to manufacturers and producers in business. They would be levied for sales and distribution. Cultivation at home for personal use would not be taxed or regulated. Don’t want to pay taxes? Grow your own.
Dealing a Blow to Discrimination
In the United States, 36 out of 50 states have adopted medical marijuana programs that have allowed patients to finally get the safe, healthy, and effective treatments they need. While many of these programs came with legal protections for these medical patients, many companies still claim federal policies as a reason to deny jobs to or even terminate the employment of medical marijuana patients. While patients have limited rights under state provisions, they continue to face daunting challenges as it remains a scheduled substance at a federal level. They also continue to be forced to pay out of pocket while pharmaceutical medications are covered by insurance.
Interstate Commerce is Needed
Just recently, the State of Illinois legalized cannabis for recreational use, but they continue to face growing demands and dwindling supplies. Pipelines across state lines may be able to help. However, this remains impossible as long as cannabis remains illegal federally. Illinois is just one of many examples of this growing problem in the cannabis industry. It doesn’t only affect recreational users but medical patients as well. Consider those in Oregon, for instance. While the regulations and taxes may hurt the industry, not passing the MORE Act will hurt even more.
The MORE Act Will End These Draconian Laws Now
If you you, as an innocent person, sat in a prison cell how would you feel? What if your child or your mother or your best friend found themselves there? Would you want them out now, or would you be willing to wait for the ideal political situation? Taxes and regulations can be repealed. The years Americans waste sitting in prison cells for victimless crimes can’t be brought back with the stroke of a pen. Human beings do not deserve to be locked away with murderers and rapists for the use of a relaxing green plant. Nor do they deserve denial of employment, housing, and basic sustenance for it. .
It’s true, the MORE Act won’t give everyone what they want now. It does, however, end senseless Draconian policies, grave injustices, and senseless violence in America.
More people should consider supporting it and hope the senate comes to its senses.