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Congress Alert

MORE Act Sole Republican Cosponsor Says the Bill Is Not the Way to Legalize Marijuana Now


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The United States House of Representatives appears set to have a floor vote this month on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (HR 3884). The bill would legalize marijuana at the national level, but, as I pointed out in a July article, the MORE Act’s “inclusion of race-based provisions and marijuana business subsidies make the bill seem incapable of gaining much Republican support.”

Such provisions included in the bill being pushed to the House floor by the House’s Democratic leadership, I wrote, “are dealbreakers for many Republicans” meaning the bill appears “destined to be dead on arrival in the Republican-majority US Senate and at the White House should it be approved in the US House.”

It looks like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the sole Republican cosponsor of the MORE Act, is thinking along the same lines about the bill. Kyle Jaeger wrote in a Wednesday Marijuana Moment article about a recent Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz podcast episode in which Gaetz discusses the bill and some of its provisions that Gaetz terms as “reparations.” After noting that Gaetz expresses support in the podcast for MORE Act provisions ending US government prohibition of marijuana and providing for the expungement of prior marijuana convictions, Jaeger notes:
However, there’s a third element that [Gaetz] said is 'doing a little too much.' The MORE Act would establish a five percent excise tax on cannabis sales, revenue from which would be reinvested in communities disproportionately impacted by the drug war.

'They’ve got money generated from marijuana taxes and revenue essentially being used as reparations for communities of color,' he said. 'And I just don’t think that that is the way that we ought to stand up industries in this country, that they have to owe some debt to a particular community.'
Gaetz also opines in the podcast that the MORE Act, if passed in the House, will not be approved by the US Senate or President Donald Trump. Instead, says Gaetz, the House could pass other legislation that both greatly rolls back the war on marijuana and could become law with Senate and presidential approval. Jaeger writes:
Gaetz, in the new podcast, argued that more modest cannabis reform legislation could pass both chambers of Congress [and] be signed by the president. The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would simply allow states to set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention, though it wouldn’t formally deschedule cannabis or address past harms of the war on drugs.

'Instead of doing all the restorative justice and all of the reparations, it just does essentially the work of getting rid of the federal government’s role in this process,' he said. 'That this will largely be a state-based decision. If a state does allow for marijuana under a medical platform or even under an adult-use use platform, they would have the opportunity to do so without being in like a direct conflict with current federal law on marijuana.'

'So we’ll take a vote on the MORE Act,' Gaetz said. 'I am disappointed that we can’t get a vote on the STATES Act because I think that enjoys far broader support and could actually go into law, but yet again, it looks like [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)] and the Democrats would rather have the issue than have the progress.'
Read Jaeger’s article and listen to Gaetz’s podcast here.

You can find the STATES Act (HR 2093) that Gaetz mentions here.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 1588), an alternative legalization bill likely to be favored more by the president and Republicans in the Senate than the MORE Act because it is focused just on ending marijuana prohibition, can be found here.

Gaetz is among the Republican cosponsors of both the STATES Act and the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.
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