by Morgan Fox, NCIA’s Director of Media Relations
In what House leaders have assured supporters is merely a temporary delay, lawmakers announced that the vote on the MORE Act which was originally scheduled for this week has been postponed until at least after the November election.
This legislation – which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), expunge federal cannabis convictions, and establish programs to promote diversity in the cannabis industry and help communities that have been unfairly targeted by marijuana enforcement – was eagerly awaited as the first bill of its kind to get a floor vote in either chamber of Congress. No other de-scheduling bill, particularly one that contains robust restorative justice provisions, has ever gotten a vote since the original passage of the CSA in 1971, and advocates were confident that it would be approved in the House. In recent months, dozens of additional lawmakers have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, bringing the current total to 113.
Unfortunately, despite recent polling showing majority support for the MORE Act among Republican voters (and its job- and revenue-creating potential), some in the GOP attacked Democratic House leadership for moving forward with the bill before Congress had come to an agreement on a new pandemic relief package.
While this is certainly disappointing, House leadership has promised that the MORE Act will get a vote before the end of the year. That gives us at least another seven weeks to continue building support! In the meantime, attention is turning back to pandemic relief, where we are still pushing for the continued inclusion of SAFE Banking language in the final package if Congress can come to an agreement. There are also a number of cannabis-related provisions in this year’s appropriations bills, including removing barriers to research, protecting universities engaged in cannabis research, and preventing federal interference in state-legal medical and adult-use cannabis programs.
Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to support ALL these measures!
In other federal news…
With the help of our Policy Council, Hemp Committee, and Scientific Advisory Committee, NCIA submitted comments to the Food & Drug Administration this week providing recommendations on a number of issues related to how the agency will classify cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds in the future. You can read the full comments here. While the current comment period is now closed, the FDA has been expressing increased interest in input from a variety of stakeholders, suggesting that they are preparing for a change in policy in the relatively near future. It is very likely that there will be more opportunities to weigh in on their policies that could affect the cannabis industry for years to come.
The DEA and USDA both have open comment periods right now, so be on the lookout for more information about how you can help us influence cannabis and hemp policy at those agencies in the coming weeks!