STATEMENT: Historic Passing of MORE Act Will Take Restorative Steps Toward Communities of Color Affected by Current Marijuana Enforcement Policy

Washington, D.C. — In a historic vote today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, H.R. 3884, the most comprehensive legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at a federal level, clear marijuana records, ensure equal access to public benefits regardless of prior marijuana convictions, and invest in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

After the vote, Akua Amaning, associate director for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

The historic approval of the MORE Act is a significant criminal justice reform milestone achieved by a comprehensive bipartisan effort. This legislation reflects the general sentiment of people around the country, who support legalization by a resounding 68 percent, and goes in line with the 33 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have already decriminalized the substance. It also resonates with the 7 in 10 American voters who supported decriminalizing the use of marijuana in the past election cycle and the five states—Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Montana—that approved ballot measures to decriminalize marijuana usage, either for medicinal or recreational purpose.

By removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, the MORE Act will secure the decriminalization of marijuana through equitable measures that will put an end to racially disproportionate outcomes and help close the racial wealth gap. For many years, marijuana has become a gateway to the criminal justice system for far too many people of color, with more than 600,000 arrests each year in the United States. For example, Black individuals are arrested four times more than their white counterparts, despite data showing that the two groups use marijuana at similar rates.

The MORE Act will take restorative steps toward communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by current marijuana enforcement policy, redeeming criminal records and giving people a second chance. We look forward to building on the momentum across the nation and in the House of Representatives to work with the next Congress and administration to usher in a new era for marijuana reform policies and to advance the MORE Act.

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