Congress should stop wasting time and decriminalize cannabis, according to an open letter signed by a number of organizations, including a major funder of marijuana reform initiatives.
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) led a group of 34 organizations, founded and led by people directly impacted by the country’s criminal legal system, in urging prompt legislative action.
Specifically, they wrote, Congress should support comprehensive marijuana reform by passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884) when it comes up for a vote on the House floor following the November 2020 election.
Drug war has a human face, cost
With many of the people represented by these organizations having been negatively impacted by these very policies, the letter forces members of Congress to reckon with the human face of the unjust and racist laws they have kept in place over the last 50 years.
The policies the MORE Act seeks to overturn are ones that have robbed these people and their families of economic opportunity, housing, education, federal nutrition assistance such as SNAP and TANF, and in some cases, even their children or immigration status.
“For decades, these communities have paid an extraordinary price for our country’s failed war on drugs. While passage of the MORE Act won’t undo the harm they have experienced, clearly won’t erase their pain, and will not replace their lost wages, security or freedom, it will provide hope and opportunity for a more just future,” said Queen Adesuyi, Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. “We cannot ask them to sacrifice a moment more. It is time for Congress to hear their voice and take action to undo these policies that have haunted their communities for far too long.”
The letter argues that ending marijuana prohibition through the MORE Act is critical to addressing extensive racial disparities within the criminal legal system and providing economic relief for the communities that have borne the brunt of these draconian drug policies, creating a clear pathway for them to participate and benefit from the legal marijuana economy.
“We all have the right to public safety, and to feel protected in our communities, but the documented racial disparities in marijuana arrests between Black and white users does not reflect our values of equality and fairness,” said DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA. “The fact remains that Black individuals are about four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana activity, despite similar usage rates between Black and white individuals. JustLeadership is proud to partner with the Drug Policy Alliance to urge Congress to take steps necessary to decarcerate the United States and pass the MORE Act now.”
After the unfortunate delay of the MORE Act vote in September, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer provided assurances that the vote would take place before the end of the year.