Cicilline Urges House to Pass Marijuana Reform

Apr 1, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – Ahead of today’s vote on H.R. 3617, The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE Act), Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01), senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, urged all of his colleagues to join him in voting to reverse some of harms caused by the failed War on Drugs.

“This current system, frankly, doesn’t work, it doesn’t make any sense – not for community safety, not for the functioning of an effective prison system, and not for successful rehabilitation,” said Congressman Cicilline. “By removing marijuana from the federal controlled substances list, allowing for the expungement of marijuana offenses, and providing support to communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs, the MORE Act is a long overdue step in restoring justice and reversing the harms caused by the War on Drugs."
 
The MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level, while enabling states to set their own regulatory policies without threat of federal intervention. It takes long overdue steps to address the devastating injustices of the criminalization of marijuana and the vastly disproportionate impact it has had on communities of color. It imposes taxes on the cannabis industry and uses the revenues to fund key services targeted to those adversely impacted by federal criminalization of marijuana – with people of color almost 4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than their White counterparts, despite equal rates of use across populations. 
 
The bill also addresses the fact that, while communities of color have been disproportionately adversely affected by federal marijuana law, now that many states have legalized marijuana use, many people of color have been prevented from participating in the legal cannabis industry due to prior marijuana convictions. The bill includes important provisions to provide the support needed to ensure that people of color have more opportunities to more fully participate in this growing industry.
 
The Congressman’s remarks, as delivered, are below.
 
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the MORE Act, legislation that takes an important step in rectifying some of the harm caused by the failed War on Drugs.
 
The enforcement of marijuana laws has been a major driver of mass incarceration in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people are arrested each year for marijuana-related charges, very often just possession. 
 
This has, in turn, led to our federal prison system operating at 103% of capacity – and too many of these offenders are serving time for non-violent, drug-related crimes.
 
A drug-related conviction – even for possession – can be devastating for the rest of a person’s life. Making it difficult or even impossible to vote, get a job, be approved for a loan, or even qualify for a government program. And as we know, these consequences have had a massively disproportionate impact on communities of color, as Chairman Jeffries just mentioned.
              
And this current system, frankly, doesn’t work, it doesn’t make any sense – not for community safety, not for the functioning of an effective prison system, and not for successful rehabilitation.
 
By removing marijuana from the federal controlled substances list, allowing for the expungement of marijuana offenses, and providing support to communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs, the MORE Act is a long overdue step in restoring justice and reversing the harms caused by the War on Drugs.
 
I want to thank Chairman Nadler for his extraordinary leadership on this issue. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation and to support it here today.
 
I urge my colleagues to join me in voting yes and reversing the gross injustice that the War on Drugs has produced and bring sensible policy back into place.
 
And I again want to end by thanking everyone who has worked on this for so many years, but particularly our Chairman for his passionate and strong leadership.

And with that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back.
 
The MORE Act is supported by more than 130 organizations, including such organizations as the NAACP,  National Urban League, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, SEIU, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU, Move On, The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Defense Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, JustLeadershipUSA, National Association of Social Workers, National Employment Law Project, National Organization for Women, Moms Rising, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and Veterans Cannabis Coalition.
 

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