By Ashley Gooden, ABC 3340
he United States is one step closer to legalizing marijuana at the federal level with the MORE Act. It’s is one of the most comprehensive marijuana reform bills ever introduced in congress.
MORE stands for Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, and with it, the debate over whether to legalize weed at a federal level takes a new turn.
The house judiciary committee says the MORE Act will correct previous drug policies that have impacted communities of color and low-income communities.
The act will also remove prior and pending convictions.
Shelby County Drug Task Force Commander, Clay Hammac, says the act raises eyebrows for law enforcement.
“We feel as though we’re losing ground when sharing good information with our community. What that means, specifically, is moms, dads, partner with us. Let’s make sure that we’re not following blindly into some of these headlines where we are believing that marijuana is harmless,” says Hammac.
Hammac says in Shelby County, by volume, marijuana is the biggest drug problem, but their biggest concern is impaired driving involving marijuana.
“I think it would be good all around for the state of Alabama,” says Corey Coggins.
Coggins believes if impaired driving is the concern, why not make alcohol illegal too?
Then, you have some like Bradley Blackwell, who are still making up their mind.
“I don’t plan to even if it becomes legal, it’s just something I’ve never been interested in, but it’s something I’m interested in hearing both sides and coming up with my own opinion,” says Blackwell.
The next step for the MORE Act is for the full House to vote.
Here are more details about The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act:
Decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act. This applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions, and enables states to set their own policy.
Requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allows prior offenders to request expungement, and requires courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
Authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund, which includes three grant programs:
The Community Reinvestment Grant Program: Provides services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment.
The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program: Provides funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
The Equitable Licensing Grant Program: Provides funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
Opens up Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
Provides non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense:
Prohibits the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense.
Provides that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
Requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.