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Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of H.R. 3617, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement, as prepared, on the House floor in support of his legislation the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act:

“The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or the “MORE Act,” is long overdue legislation that would reverse decades of failed federal policies based on the criminalization of marijuana.  It would also take steps to address the heavy toll these policies have taken across the country, particularly among communities of color.  

“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health.    Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven both unwise and unjust.  

“That is why the MORE Act would set a new path forward and would begin to correct some of the injustices of the last fifty years.  The bill decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level, by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.  This change applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions.  It does not, however, undermine the ability of states to apply their criminal laws to marijuana or to legalize and regulate it, as they see fit. 

“The bill also eliminates barriers to medical research, allows the VA to recommend medical marijuana to veterans living with PTSD, and it allows financial institutions to service the marijuana industry.  It provides for expungement or resentencing of certain federal marijuana arrests and convictions, and it supports expungement programs at the state and local levels.

“In addition, the bill authorizes a sales tax on marijuana sales—and directs those revenues to an Opportunity Trust Fund to support communities harmed by the War on Drugs.  It also establishes a wide range of grant programs to support equal access to the benefits of decriminalization.

“When it comes to our immigration laws, the bill prospectively and retroactively ensures that marijuana will not be considered a “controlled substance”—directly mirroring the protection and relief under the criminal justice provisions of bill.  This protects individuals from the collateral consequences for marijuana activity and ensures that immigrants can participate in their state’s legal cannabis industry.

“In recent years, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis.  Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

“If states are the laboratories of democracy, it is long past time for the federal government to recognize that legalization has been a resounding success and that the conflict with federal law has become untenable.

“While I am proud to be the sponsor of this legislation, there are many people who are responsible for getting us to this point today, and I want to thank them for their efforts.

“This includes Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the “mother of this movement,” and Congressman Blumenauer, whose dogged persistence was critical to moving this legislation forward.  Congressman Cohen has also been a longtime champion and an important voice in the movement for reform, as has Congresswoman Jackson Lee, who helped shepherd this legislation to the floor.  

“I also want to thank Chairman Neal, who has been a critical partner in drafting the revenue provisions in this bill and in helping move this legislation to the floor, as well as Chairman McGovern, who structured a good debate on this bill.

“Finally, Speaker Pelosi, Whip Clyburn, and Chairman Jeffries have all been steadfast in their support of this legislation, and I want to particularly thank Majority Leader Hoyer for everything he has done to bring this bill to the floor.

“M. Speaker, criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, and the resulting collateral consequences, are unjust and harmful to our society.  The MORE Act comprehensively addresses these injustices, and I urge all my colleagues to support this legislation.

“I reserve the balance of my time.”

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