US House Judiciary chair introduces sweeping cannabis reform bill

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U.S. House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler and U.S. senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris on Tuesday filed legislation to decriminalize marijuana across the nation.

If adopted, the bill could open up business opportunities for legal marijuana nationwide, similar to the federal legalization of hemp.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 introduced by Nadler, a New York Democrat, and Harris, a California Democrat, would remove the plant from the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana currently is classified as a Schedule 1 drug.

As chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, Nadler will control which cannabis reform bills with a judiciary component will get a vote and potentially advance to the full chamber.

The measure currently has four co-sponsors in the Senate and 27 in the House, but only one is a Republican.

A provision of the act would tax cannabis sales at 5%.

Funds would be earmarked for small-business loans and other programs that assist the socially and economically disadvantaged.

Many experts and lawmakers say marijuana legalization needs to include services and reparations to minorities who were the biggest victims of the war on drugs.

Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, applauded what he described as a “historic piece of legislation.”

“There are thousands of state-regulated cannabis businesses operating around the country, employing hundreds of thousands of workers and generating billions of dollars in tax revenues,” Levine said in a statement.

Additional information on the MORE bill can be found in this news release from Harris.