The MORE Act: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

December 12 Jake Irl Park

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act aims to decriminalize marijuana, albeit with a few trojan horses: 

The Good

Rescheduling of Cannabis

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug per the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Passage of the MORE Act would remove cannabis from scheduling, thus state and local governments would regulate the drug much like alcohol. A win for states’ rights. 

Expungement and Sealing of All Federal Marijuana Offenses

Upon passage of the Act, Federal courts would begin the process of expunging all Federal cannabis-related convictions. Further, all records would be sealed, or inaccessible to the public. Nevertheless, most cannabis-related convictions occur on the state level, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

IRS Rule 280E Exemption

As it stands, cannabis retail businesses, medical or otherwise, are not allowed to deduct business-related expenses for purposes of calculating their federal income tax burden. In other words, if you own a cannabis dispensary, you are paying a lot more in federal income tax compared to retailers in other industries. More tax deductions? Count us in. 

The Bad

No Denial for Federal Public Benefits on the Basis of Cannabis

As advocates of states’ rights and opponents of taxes, anything that may result in an increased reliance on federal funds is a no-go. This appraisal has nothing to do with cannabis, and everything to do with principle. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics to Collect Demographic Data

One of the benefits of being an “unregulated” or “illicit” market (i.e., in the eyes of the federal government) is that you are not subject to otherwise unnecessary bureaucratic malarkey. The MORE Act states that “The Bureau of Labor Statistics shall regularly compile, maintain, and make public data on the demographics of…business owners in the cannabis industry [and] individuals employed in the cannabis industry.” 

This is not unlike any other legal industry in the states, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. We’re told tales of how this data helps “mitigate disparate outcomes,” which is doublespeak for, “we’re going to regulate the industry in perpetuity.”

The Ugly

Implementation of Excise Tax and the Opportunity Trust Fund

The Act established a 5% excise tax on legal cannabis sales, which will rise to 8% over the five years following implementation. Excise taxes are imposed on the supplier or producer, then incorporated into the sale of the product by retailer. 

The taxes collected will go into the “Opportunity Trust Fund,” of which 60% goes to the Attorney General to enforce the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and 40% to the Small Business Administration to provide loans to the well-connected. In other words, you won’t see a dime. 

Establishment of the Community Reinvestment Grant Program

Under this grant program, “eligible entities” will be provided “with funds to administer services for individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs…” This might help some people, but only in the way some people are helped by involuntary organ harvesting. 

The MORE Act expects us to believe that those who waged the War on Drugs are also best suited to help us heal from it. 

Establishment of the Cannabis Justice Office

The MORE Act would establish a Cannabis Justice Office, headed by a Director, to administer the Community Reinvestment Grant Program and “perform such other functions” that the Office deems consistent with their obligations. Those privy to bureaucratic malfeasance know this is nothing more than a blank check. The Cannabis Justice Office will inevitably expand into regulatory offices, imposing arbitrary restrictions and making the cannabis market much less free and open to the average joe. 

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” -H.L. Mencken

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