It’s been a busy year for federal cannabis legislation. Will all the activity lead to legalization – or even incremental progress on changing federal law?
Federal cannabis reform hasn’t passed into law, but it’s not for lack of trying. In 2021 alone, several high-profile cannabis bills have been proposed in both chambers of Congress, while others have been promised later this year.
Moving into the second half of 2021, let’s examine the most prominent federal cannabis bills, assess their current status, and with the help of industry experts, make some predictions about the future.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act
Introduced in the House by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) & other Democratic representatives
The current flagship legislation for comprehensive cannabis legalization, the MORE Act was first introduced in the summer of 2019. It passed a full floor vote in December 2020, making history as the first bill to explicitly legalize cannabis to pass in Congress.
Since the bill’s inception, however, momentum has been slowed by a lack of bipartisan support – particularly related to the bill’s strong social equity provisions, which would devote federal grants to help communities hurt most by the War on Drugs.
“In order to pass the Senate, you’re going to need to get 10 Republicans on board with a descheduling bill without alienating Democrats, and I think that can be pretty tricky,” said Morgan Fox, Director of Media Relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association in a phone interview. “Particularly since in the GOP, the main sticking point tends to be social equity.”
Last month, Rep. Nadler reintroduced the MORE Act, highlighting advancements in state-level cannabis reform in an accompanying statement: “Since I introduced the MORE Act last Congress, numerous states across the nation, including my home state of New York, have moved to legalize marijuana. Our federal laws must keep