Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 3617, the MORE Act of 2021
Washington, September 30, 2021
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 3617, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021:
"I am proud to have introduced H.R. 3617, the 'Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act,' or the 'MORE Act,' joined by my colleagues Representatives Barbara Lee, Earl Blumenauer, Nydia Velazquez, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Hakeem Jeffries, as well as many colleagues on this Committee who have signed on as cosponsors.
"This long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana. It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color.
"I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.
"This issue is not new to Congress. There have been many Members who have introduced bills upon which provisions in this bill are based. For instance, Representative Barbara Lee has championed many measures reflecting policies in the MORE Act, and I applaud her longstanding leadership on this issue. Representative Earl Blumenauer has also been an indefatigable advocate and has supported everything we have done to get to where we are today. I thank him, as well.
"Last Congress, the House voted in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner to address this issue. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to act. So today, we are moving forward again. Without any further delay, we need to reform these unjust laws.
"The MORE Act would make three important changes to federal law. It would: remove marijuana, or cannabis, from the list of federally controlled substances; authorize the provision of resources, funded by a federal tax on marijuana sales, to address the needs of communities that have been seriously impacted by the War on Drugs, including increasing the participation of communities of color in the burgeoning cannabis market; and provide for the expungement of Federal marijuana convictions and arrests.
"Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.
"The MORE Act would address some of these negative impacts. For example, it would establish an Opportunity Trust Fund within the Treasury Department to fund federal programs to support communities adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
"These programs would provide services to individuals—including job training, reentry services and substance use disorder services—and would provide funds for loans to assist small businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
"Our bill would also provide resources for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
"The collateral consequences of a conviction for marijuana possession— or even just an arrest—can be devastating.
"For individuals with a criminal record, it can be difficult or impossible to vote, to obtain educational loans, to get a job, to maintain a professional license, to secure housing, to receive government assistance, or even to adopt a child.
"These exclusions create an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans. Another important provision of the MORE Act recognizes this injustice and addresses these harmful effects by expunging and sealing federal convictions and arrests for marijuana offenses."In my view, criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, and the resulting collateral consequences, are unjust and harmful to our society. The MORE Act comprehensively addresses this injustice, and I urge all my colleagues to support this bill today."