On April 1, 2022, the House of Representatives voted 220-204 in favor of a bill that would decriminalize marijuana federally. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (the “MORE Act”), sponsored by New York’s Representative Jerry Nadler, received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. Federal Legislators from both sides of the aisle voted to approve the MORE Act and end the criminalization of marijuana across the country.
In addition to decriminalization, the MORE Act contained several other key pieces of legislation, including expungement of non-violent marijuana offenses, protections for federal employees, allowances for the Veterans’ Administration to recommend marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and the authorization of sales tax on marijuana sales. Moreover, the decriminalization of marijuana would remove the plant from the Schedule I list of controlled substances and allow business owners to deduct “ordinary and necessary expenses” from their federal income taxes currently prohibited by Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 280E. It would also allow businesses to take advantage of financial opportunities like federal loans and grants that are currently out-of-reach due to marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance.
Clearly, passage of the MORE Act would have far-reaching implications for Americans, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate. New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer plans to introduce similar legislation this year but is expected to face opposition from the Republican-controlled Senate. In recent years, similar legislation has advanced through the House of Representatives and been introduced in the Senate, only to fall short of the 60-vote threshold needed to pass. However, with the increasing trend towards decriminalizing and de-stigmatizing marijuana use, efforts to enact marijuana legislation could ultimately be successful this year. The House of Representatives’ bipartisan approval of the MORE Act is further evidence of the growing support for such legislation in Washington.
As state and federal legislation continues to push the cannabis industry forward and shape the landscape for business owners, the Firm remains up to date on developments and anticipated changes in the law. The Firm has followed the progress of New York’s cannabis industry from its inception and is available to answer questions regarding newly proposed and enacted laws, cannabis license applications, or other cannabis related inquires. Contact the Firm today to find out how you can get involved in the cannabis industry!