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What is S.2227, the More Act of 2019?

By: Brian Zhou

· Domestic Policy

On July 23, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) proclaimed, “Times have changed—marijuana should not be a crime.” Her announcement followed the introduction of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, a comprehensive bill that aims to decriminalize and regulate marijuana while also helping disadvantaged communities. Over 100 organizations, including the ACLU and the Human Rights Watch, have officially voiced their support for the bill in a letter to Congress. Harris, a 2020 Democratic hopeful currently polling at above 8% approval, introduced the Act alongside House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who stated that the reform will be a “timely and important step toward racial and economic justice.”

Especially in recent years, the legalization of marijuana has become increasingly popular, with over 70 percent of Americans in support. The MORE Act would completely decriminalize marijuana: it would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, require the expungement of prior marijuana convictions, and allow those with such convictions to be eligible for public federal benefits. However, the bill sets itself apart from predecessors by also implementing a 5 percent sales tax on marijuana products which would be used to fund programs aiding underprivileged individuals. These programs, collectively called the Opportunity Trust Fund, are designed to provide services such as loans, education, job training, and mentoring to the people most negatively impacted by the War on Drugs. The goal is to reverse the toll that marijuana prohibition took on socially and economically disadvantaged communities. Under previous policies, low-income and minority communities suffered from disproportionately high rates of incarceration and disruption.
Lawmakers from both parties have expressed willingness to consider reform and the 116th Congress is considered by many to be the most marijuana-friendly ever. It is also worth noting that every major 2020 presidential candidate supports marijuana legalization, with some even co-sponsoring the MORE Act.

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