On April 1, 2022, the US federal House of Congress legalized marijuana. It was not an April Fool’s joke. But there’s a reason you’re not hearing bells ringing from every city and mountaintop. Just as Schoolhouse Rock explained to us many years ago, a bill has to make it through the House of Congress and the Senate before it becomes law. Right now, the MORE Act is lined up to completely legalize cannabis, retroactively decriminalize it, and establish practical pathways to things cannabis in employment and new small business opportunities, but it has only just passed through Congress.
This is a historical moment, a triumphant repeat of passing the MORE act two years ago – right before the administration change where the Act has already died in the Senate once. Fortunately, one of the benefits of being a Republic is that we can keep voting on things until they pass.
So what does the House passing the legalization MORE Act mean for the cannabis industry today?
What Would the MORE Act Do if Enacted?
Here is a quick summary of all the policies that could be implemented if the MORE Act passes in the Senate.
- Remove the Schedule I Drug Classification: Cannabis would no longer be an illegal narcotic.
- Expunge low-level federal marijuana convictions
- Incentivize states to do the same
- Pathways to new cannabis small business ownership
- Counteract those denied opportunities by grant eligibility
- Veterans medical cannabis program
- Remove deportation risk for minor marijuana infractions
- Reinvestment grant opportunities for communities disadvantaged by marijuana enforcement actions
- Basic rights for cannabis consumers
Clearly, these changes would be revolutionary not just for cannabis users, but for cannabis businesses as well. Many of the details regarding how cannabis will be addressed in the workplace and opportunities for new cannabis entrepreneurs.
What The MORE Act Would Mean for Cannabis Businesses
If the MORE Act passes, or the CAO Act after it, cannabis business regulation will suddenly be on a new playing field – with federal law setting the standard and states encouraged to either customize or fall into line.
Existing cannabis businesses will, as usual, brace for a new wave of regulation changes. However, the thing that will truly transform our industry is opening inter-state borders. When the overflow of cannabis growth from California and Oregon can begin exporting to other states, we expect to see a massive change in the supply and demand landscape.
Developments in strain cultivation will also blossom as growers are able to swap seeds, cuttings, and contract with processors across state lines.
The MORE Act details suggest vast opportunity curation, especially in regions that have been negatively impacted by brutal marijuana enforcement policies. But with the Schedule I label lifted, suddenly many new business opportunities like catering and travel-related cannabis services will open up.
The one complication we foresee is logistics and transport. Cannabis transport has been a matter of contention in several legalized states and federal cannabis transport – or traversing the now-divisive patchwork of local legalization borders – may reveal a new layer of complications once the federal state borders open.
A Realistic Look at the Senate Passing the MORE Act.
To be straightforward, the reason there’s not currently dancing in the streets is that the Senate is not likely to successfully pass the MORE Act into Law this time around. The Senate is made up of older and more conservative members, even on the Democratic side. With only two senators per state, they are also less connected and beholden to their constituents and public opinion than congresspersons.
The Senate has already declined to pass the MORE act once in 2020. To pass, it will need 60 total votes. That would most likely mean all 50 Democratic senators and 10 Republicans. This is not impossible, but it will take some pushing.
The good news is that the current Senate Majority Leader has drafted their own version of the MORE act (Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act) which is similar. If the Majority Leader can push the vote on either bill, legalization could happen.
Getting Our Hopes Up; Holding Position
In the cannabis industry, now is a good time to start discussions and consider our larger-scale involvement in pushing for legal change. If the MORE Act doesn’t make it this time, the fact that it’s been passed by Congress twice means that change is happening. The younger politicians more closely connected to their constituents hear that cannabis legalization is in demand. The stronger this is heard, the closer we get to passing legalization through the Senate.