Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (“MORE”) Act.  The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and would eliminate criminal penalties for the manufacture, distribution, and possession of marijuana.

The MORE Act also makes other changes to existing law, such as making Small Business Association loans and services available to cannabis-related business and service providers; requiring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to public demographic data on cannabis businesses owners and employees; creating a reinvestment program to administer services to individuals and communities adversely affected by the War on Drugs, and prohibiting the denial of federal public benefits on the basis of cannabis-related conduct or convictions.

While the MORE Act has passed the House, it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.  Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris has introduced an identical version of the MORE Act in the Senate with 7 additional Democratic co-sponsors.

Given the current composition of the Senate during the lame-duck session, the Senate version appears unlikely to succeed. Even so, the MORE Act marks a significant milestone as a Congressional chamber has approved of the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level as an increasing number of states legalize the substance at the state level.