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MORE Act Reaches Congress: A Leap Towards Federal Marijuana Legalization

The MORE Act’s Journey to Congress

In a nation where the wave of cannabis legalization has swept across numerous states, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act stands as a beacon of hope for federal legalization advocates. The MORE Act, once again, made its way to Congress in 2023, igniting discussions and debates on the federal status of marijuana. The Act’s objective is to decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and dismissing criminal penalties tied to marijuana. However, the road to federal legalization is far from being a straightforward journey. This blog post seeks to explore the recent advancements of the MORE Act in Congress, and the prospects of federal marijuana legalization in the foreseeable future.

The MORE Act, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), saw a reintroduction in Congress in 2023. Although it managed to sail through the 117th Congress with Rep. Nadler as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, the political tides have turned since then. The shift in the House majority and the anticipated chairing by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)—known for his opposition to the cannabis sector—poses significant challenges for advancing the MORE Act to the floor for a vote​1​. Despite these hurdles, the act has stimulated conversations and brought attention to the potential economic benefits it could unfold.

One of the major economic arguments in favor of the MORE Act is the potential revenue generation from federal taxes on cannabis. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the proposed federal taxes included in the MORE Act could generate about $8.1 billion in revenue from 2022 to 2031​2​. This projection underscores the economic incentive for federal marijuana legalization, aligning with a broader global trend toward legalizing cannabis for its financial benefits.

The MORE Act passed the House on April 1, 2022, and was ready for Senate action, presenting an opportunity to transition from state-level to federal marijuana legalization​3​​4​. The passage in the House was a significant milestone, reflecting a growing bipartisan support for cannabis legalization. However, with the transition in the House majority, the MORE Act’s future in the Senate remains uncertain, especially under the chairmanship of Rep. Jim Jordan.

The overarching narrative around federal marijuana legalization is one of a gradual shift in policy perspective. The reintroduction of the MORE Act in 2023 is a testament to the growing momentum, despite the political challenges it currently faces. The act’s progression will undoubtedly be a focal point of cannabis policy discourse in the coming months, as stakeholders and policymakers grapple with the complexities of federal marijuana legalization amidst a dynamically evolving political landscape.

The unfolding saga of the MORE Act in Congress exemplifies the broader discourse on marijuana legalization in the United States. While the hurdles are significant, the push for federal legalization continues, symbolized by the persistent efforts to advance the MORE Act. As the narrative continues to develop, the eyes of the nation remain fixed on Congress, awaiting a decision that could potentially reshape the federal stance on marijuana and herald a new era of cannabis policy in the United States.