Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act Letter

View this letter as a PDF here. 

August 13, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                             The Honorable Steny Hoyer
Speaker                                                                            Majority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                                          U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515                                                  Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 220 national advocacy organizations, and more than 125 national, state, and local drug policy, criminal justice reform, and civil rights organizations, we write to communicate our strong support of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R.3884) and urge you to bring this bill to the House floor for a vote in September.

The MORE Act is bipartisan legislation supported by the Marijuana Justice Coalition, of which The Leadership Conference is a part. Since first convening in 2018, the Marijuana Justice Coalition has worked tirelessly to advance the MORE Act – the most sweeping piece of marijuana reform ever considered by the U.S. Congress. Last year, shortly after the bill’s introduction, more than 100 national and state organizations collectively urged the House of Representatives to swiftly advance this comprehensive marijuana justice policy that addresses criminal justice reform, racial justice, and equity.

In November 2019, the House Judiciary Committee made history when it advanced the MORE Act, becoming the first congressional body to vote favorably for a marijuana descheduling bill.[i] Since that time, the circumstances of 2020 have made the failed War on Drugs even more untenable and amplified the voices of those demanding transformation in our criminal legal system. In the face of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national dialogue on unjust law enforcement practices, marijuana reform as a modest first step at chipping away at the War on Drugs is more relevant and more pressing than ever before. The MORE Act remains the most effective and equitable way forward.

Mass criminalization, racially biased policing, and over-enforcement of drug law violations have devastated the social and economic fabrics of communities of color, while also tearing apart the lives of millions of individuals and families. The continued enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws results in over 600,000 arrests annually, disproportionately impacting people of color.[ii] This results in family separation when a jail or prison sentence is involved. This also means that these individuals will be marked with a drug conviction record that will affect their ability to work, find housing, and otherwise provide for their families. Further, marijuana criminalization continues to be a driver of family separation in the immigration system.[iii] In 2013, simple marijuana possession was one of the top causes of deportation and the most common cause of deportation for drug law violations.[iv] And while Black and Latino people have carried the brunt of marijuana criminalization, they have been shut out of the regulated marijuana marketplace due to these very same criminal records in addition to financial barriers to entry. Currently, it is estimated that less than one percent of the marijuana industry is owned or operated by people of color[v].

The MORE Act addresses the collateral consequences of federal marijuana criminalization and takes steps to ensure the legal marketplace is diverse and inclusive of individuals most adversely impacted by prohibition. It begins by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (descheduling). This provision alone will have a significant impact, as it will decriminalize marijuana at the federal level while enabling states to set their own regulatory policies without threat of federal interference. Descheduling also protects noncitizens from immigration consequences due to marijuana activity, including noncitizens working in state-legal marijuana marketplaces. The bill also prevents the government from denying an individual federal benefits, student financial aid, or security clearances needed to obtain government jobs because of marijuana use. Most importantly, the MORE Act takes significant steps to right the wrongs of decades of federal marijuana criminalization by providing for the expungement and resentencing of marijuana offenses. With a modest five percent federal excise tax on marijuana sales at the manufacturer level, the MORE Act would fund social services in communities most harmed by the War on Drugs as well as Small Business Administration programming to achieve a diverse and inclusive legal marketplace.

The MORE Act is needed now more than ever before. It can help alleviate public health challenges caused by COVID-19 in jails and prisons by reducing the number of people who are incarcerated. Passage of the bill will also help ameliorate economic hardship caused by COVID-19 as the bill will minimize barriers to employment resulting from prior criminal history and will help generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Additionally, ending the federal criminalization of marijuana will allow state marijuana regulatory programs to flourish, generating crucial new revenue for states and localities.

Now is the time for the MORE Act to reach the House floor for a vote. We strongly urge House leadership to support the passage of this bill this Congress and schedule the bill for a vote in September. If you have any questions, please contact Sakira Cook (The Leadership Conference) at [email protected] or Maritza Perez (Drug Policy Alliance) at [email protected].


Vanita Gupta
President & CEO


Rep. Jerry Nadler, Chair, House Judiciary Committee

Rep. Frank Pallone, Chair, House Energy & Commerce Committee

Rep. Collin Peterson, Chair, House Agricultural Committee

Rep. Bobby Scott, Chair, House Education & Labor Committee

Rep. Richard Neal, Chair, House Ways & Means Committee

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Chair, Natural Resources Committee

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Chair, House Oversight & Reform Committee

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Chair, House Small Business Committee



70MillionVotes-Ex-Offender Action Network

Alabama NORML

Alabama State Association of Cooperatives

American Civil Liberties Union

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

Andrew Goodman Foundation

A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)

The Arcview Group

Arizona NORML

Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Beyond Equity

Black to the Future Action Fund

Brown University SSDP

California NORML

California National Organization for Women

Cannabis Doing Good

Cannabis Impact Fund

Center for Disability Rights

Center for Popular Democracy

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU Law

Charm City Care Connection

Chicago NORML

Chicago Urban League

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE)

Clergy for a New Drug Policy

Community Gardens Inc

Colorado NORML

Cruel Consequences Portraits of Misguided Law

CSU Channel Islands Students for Sensible Drug Policy



The Decarceration Collective

Defending Rights & Dissent

Delaware NORML


Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)

Doctors for Cannabis Regulation

Drug Policy Alliance

Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

Empire State NORML

Family Law & Cannabis Alliance (FLCA)

Garden State NORML

Georgia Moms United to End the War on Drugs

Greater Baltimore Democratic Socialists of America

Green Believers Meet Up Los Angeles

Health in Justice Action Lab, Northeastern University


Hip Hop For Change, Inc

The Hood Incubator

Human Rights Watch

Illinois Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Just Cities

Justice Roundtable

Justice Strategies

Juvenile Law Center

Kansas NORML

Kentucky NORML


LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Lehigh Valley NORML

Life for Pot

Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches

Los Angeles NORML

Marijuana Matters

Matthew Shepard Foundation

Michigan State University Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Minority Cannabis Business Association

Minneapolis Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Minorities for Medical Marijuana

Mommieactivist and Sons


Motor City NORML


National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Association of Social Workers

National Cannabis Festival

National Employment Law Project

National Organization for Women

National Juvenile Justice Network

Nevada NORML


NORML of Florida

NORML of Michigan

NORML Tallahassee

North Carolina NORML

Northern Wisconsin NORML

Oaksterdam University

The Original Equity Group SPC

OVEC-Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Peachtree NORML

Project Mission Green

Public Justice Center

Randy Joe’s Veterans Program


Revolve Impact


The Sentencing Project

Southern Arizona NORML

Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund

St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Students for Sensible Drug Policy – Oakland Community College

Students for Sensible Drug Policy – UCI Law

Students for Sensible Drug Policy at DePaul University

Students for Sensible Drug Policy at IUPUI

Students for Sensible Drug Policy University of Maryland Chapter

Suncoast NORML

The Taifa Group

Tennessee NORML

UC Hastings Law Students for Sensible Drug Policy

United CORE Alliance

University of Missouri

Veterans Cannabis Coalition

Virginia NORML


Voices for Progress

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

West Virginia University Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Willamette College of Law SSDP

William C. Velasquez Institute

Wisconsin NORML

Worth Rises

Wyoming NORML


[i] Claire Hansen, Comprehensive Marijuana Legalization Bill Passes House Committee in Historic Vote, USA News, Nov. 19, 2019,

[ii] 2017 Crime in the United States, FBI,

[iii] A Price too High, Human Rights Watch, Jun. 16, 2015.

[iv] The Drug War = Mass Deportation: 250,000 Deported for Drug Offenses in Last 6 Years, Drug Policy Alliance, Apr. 9, 2014,

[v] Using Marijuana Revenue to Create Jobs, Center for American Progress, May 2019,