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Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), or HR 3884, which was introduced by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on July 23, 2019. The vote was historic, with the House voting for the first time to approve legislation to remove cannabis from Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) worked closely with Congressman Lou Correa’s (D-CA) office to secure language in the measure as it was brought to the House floor that authorizes research on the mental and physical health applications of cannabis to veterans. “ASA would like to thank Congressman Correa who has been a strong champion of veterans cannabis research, authoring HR 712, the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019, which was the basis of the amendment,” said Dustin McDonald, interim policy director of Americans for Safe Access.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and its members have worked tirelessly over the past 18 years to pass laws at the federal level for the benefit of medical cannabis patients. “The MORE Act is a signal to medical cannabis patients that their voices have finally been heard at the national level in Congress,” said Debbie Churgai, executive director of Americans for Safe Access.
The MORE Act would greatly benefit medical cannabis patients in many ways. By decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, the bill would:
- Enable patients to travel across state lines with their medication without fear of punitive law enforcement intervention, fines, or jail time.
- Introduce much-needed federal leadership and oversight over key components of medical cannabis policy that states have struggled with, such as laboratory testing and labeling standards, patient access, and medical cannabis businesses practices.
- Facilitate federal, academic, and private research on medical cannabis in the U.S.
- End the conflict of laws between the federal and state governments on cannabis.
“Today, in the U.S., there are nearly 5 million registered cannabis patients. These patients, and the millions of non-registered adult-use patients, have been denied safe and legal access to medicine they need to treat their health conditions for 50 years because of the federal government’s placement of cannabis under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
"As a patient-focused organization, ASA has not just supported the MORE Act, but also worked with legislators to make it more beneficial for patients, and we are happy to see that it passed in the House. We hope to build on this landmark action until all the needs of medical cannabis patients are met at the federal level,” said Churgai.
Regarding next steps, House passage of the MORE Act sets the stage for Senate consideration of the bill. However, it is unlikely that the chamber will take the measure up before Congress wraps up work for the year, forcing sponsors to reintroduce the bill in the 117th session of Congress that begins in January. “Between now and then, ASA will aim to work with bill sponsors to fine tune the legislation for consideration in the new Congress,” said Churgai.