April 01, 2022

Cori Bush Votes In Favor of Marijuana Decriminalization

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) voted yes on H.R. 3617, the historic Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY-10). The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives and now moves to the U.S. Senate.

“Fifty years into the failed and racist War on Drugs, even after more than 18 states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, marijuana possession remains the most arrested offense in America — disproportionately harming Black and brown folks,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “Today, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken an important step in correcting this injustice at the federal level and ending the era of marijuana criminalization. Criminalizing marijuana and other substances has fueled mass incarceration, destabilized communities, and led to devastating consequences in St. Louis and beyond. I’m proud to join Chairman Nadler and the rest of our caucus today in moving our country toward equitable drug policy reform."

Following efforts led by states across the nation, the MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level. The bill also aims to correct the historical injustices of failed drug policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities by requiring resentencing and expungement of prior convictions. This will create new opportunities for individuals as they work to advance their careers, education, and overall quality of life. The MORE Act also ensures that all benefits in the law are available to juvenile offenders.

Specifically, The MORE 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.

Congresswoman Bush has been leading the effort on decriminalization across the board since coming to Congress.  In June 2021, she joined Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) to introduce the Drug Policy Reform Act, a bill to end criminal penalties for drug possession at the federal level and to shift regulatory authority from the Justice Department to the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill would also expunge existing records and provide for resentencing, reinvest in alternative health-centered approaches, and eliminate many of the life-long consequences associated with drug arrests and convictions including the denial of employment, public benefits, immigration status, drivers’ licenses and voting rights.

 

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Congresswoman Cori Bush sits on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, serves as the Progressive Caucus Deputy Whip, and proudly represents St. Louis as a politivist in the halls of the United States Congress.