For the last several years, the U.S. House of Representatives has offered many cannabis-related reform bills. Most of those bills (with the exception of the SAFE Banking Act bills) appeared largely symbolic because there was virtually no chance that, even if passed, they would be taken up by the U.S. Senate. One such bill was the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act” or “MORE Act,” which would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, allow states to set their own legalization policy, impose a federal tax on marijuana sales, and seek to incorporate those impacted by the war on drugs into the fledgling legal cannabis industry. To many observers (including us), the MORE Act seemed designed to frame the goals of cannabis reformers but would likely give way to a less ambitious reform bill (such as the STATES Act) if reform were to proceed.
Our views on that are shifting. The House is set to vote on the MORE Act tomorrow—December 4, 2020—and it is expected to pass. But what has piqued our interest is that it appears that reformers are taking steps to broaden support for the measure. Particularly, according to a recent PoliticoPro article (subscription required), the MORE Act to be voted on tomorrow contains a provision that will allow federal transportation agencies to continue to test and discipline workers in “safety sensitive” jobs for marijuana use despite federal decriminalization.
The testing issue has been a point of contention for a long time because of how long marijuana stays in the blood stream. There has been concern in the reform movement that broadly allowing marijuana testing by employers will create problems for employees because they may test positive days or even weeks after using marijuana and long after its effects have subsided. On the other hand, there has been concern that without testing, there may be an uptick in impaired employees occupying safety sensitive positions.
The change to the MORE Act is a logical compromise, but one that would not have been made unless there was some real hope that it could increase the chances for ultimate passage. It appears that the proponents of the MORE Act are hoping to win over some additional votes in the U.S. House and increase the pressure on the U.S. Senate to act. Or at the very least, it appears cannabis reformers are signaling that they are willing to negotiate on key issues to get a cannabis reform bill passed and signed into law.
It will be interesting to see if this generates more support for the MORE Act in the House, and we will be watching the vote closely. Please check back in on the blog as we continue to follow the MORE Act and other developments out of Washington.