Passage of MORE Act is Step Forward for Racial Justice, Against Poverty

The following is a statement from Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Washington, DC, December 4, 2020 – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to decriminalize marijuana and begin to undo the historic injustices of the “War on Drugs.” The bipartisan bill includes provisions to ensure Black and Brown communities–as well as those from communities with low incomes who have been most impacted by the war on drugs–receive targeted investments.

For decades, people of color have experienced disproportionately higher marijuana arrest and conviction rates than their white peers because of systemic racism and bias in the criminal legal system. Even in states where marijuana has been legalized, disparities persist, particularly for youth and young adults of color. Marijuana-related convictions and arrests prevent individuals from getting jobs and access to key benefit programs like Pell Grants, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and workforce development programs.

The MORE Act would give people who have been convicted under marijuana-related laws an opportunity for resentencing and expungement of their records. The bill would also establish a community reinvestment grant program that would direct revenue generated from marijuana taxation to support communities most impacted by the war on drugs and incentivize participation in the industry by historically oppressed communities.

This bill is an essential effort in divesting from systems of oppression and investing in healing Black and Brown communities. CLASP urges the Senate and White House to advance the MORE Act and other, similar policies that emphasize healing after centuries of systemic racism.