The House sponsor of a bill to federally legalize marijuana that is scheduled to be taken up for a floor vote in Congress for the second time in history next week has partnered with a recently established cannabis-focused political action committee to get out the word about the upcoming action and to raise campaign funds for the upcoming election.
The Better Organizing to Win Legalization (BOWL) PAC sent out the joint fundraising email on Friday authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). It calls attention to next week’s planned vote on his Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act and asks supporters to donate to both the PAC and the congressman’s campaign committee ahead of a filing deadline.
“As the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I am pleased to report that we have never been closer to ending the federal prohibition of cannabis than we are today,” Nadler wrote.
He touted the fact that the MORE Act was the first-ever congressional bill to end marijuana prohibition to clear the chamber in 2020. The Senate declined to take it up last session, however, so it was reintroduced and advanced through the chairman’s panel again in September.
The House Rules Committee will officially take up the measure in a meeting on Monday afternoon to prepare it for floor action, including by determining which amendments will be allowed to advance for consideration.
When it comes to enacting the reform this session, Nadler said that he “cannot do it alone. BOWL PAC and I have a crucial filing deadline coming up, and your support sends a message that reformers win, prohibitionists lose.”
“For years, BOWL PAC’s Justin Strekal and I have worked together on this vital issue and together we have made historic progress in advancing cannabis reform in Congress. Now more than ever, the mission is clear: we’re going to end prohibition,” the chairman wrote. “But just saying that provides little solace to the 959 people a day who are arrested for a marijuana-related crime.”
(Disclosure: Strekal supports Marijuana Moment’s work through a monthly pledge on Patreon.)
“That is why we must simultaneously keep pressure on the House and do whatever it takes to overcome the Senate filibuster and Leader Mitch McConnell’s prohibitionist Republican front,” Nadler concluded. “I’ll continue to do my part in the House and I know Justin and BOWL PAC will do theirs in the Senate this fall.”
While Democrats do hold a majority in the Senate, the chances of the MORE Act moving through that chamber are unclear, especially considering that leadership is preparing to formally introduce their own separate legalization proposal next month. The measures are fundamentally similar, however, so it stands to reason that lawmakers may negotiate ways to merge various provisions. But the prospects of rounding up enough votes to advance any form of broad cannabis legislation through the body are questionable.
Strekal, who served as the political director of NORML for five years before branching out to start the BOWL PAC, told Marijuana Moment that the organization is “honored to be able to work so closely with key leaders like Chairman Nadler.”
“This marks a new era of coordination between the cannabis reform movement and candidates working to elect a full Congress that will end prohibition once and for all,” he said.
Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.
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The last time the MORE Act went to the floor in December 2020, it passed in a 228-164 vote, with just five Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in advancing the reform. One of those five GOP members, Rep. Don Young (R-AK), died last week. He was one of bipartisan co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
The move to hold another vote on the cannabis legalization bill comes weeks after congressional Democrats held a closed-to-press session at a party retreat that included a panel that largely centered on the reform legislation.
In addition to descheduling marijuana, the MORE Act would further allow people with past convictions to have their records expunged and create a federal tax on cannabis with the revenue going to support community reinvestment and other programs.
It also contains language to create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for cannabis offenses, protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over marijuana and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearance due to its use.
Besides the MORE Act and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA), a separate bill to tax and regulate marijuana is also in play this session. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) is sponsoring that legislation, and she said in a recent interview that she’s received assurances from Democratic leaders that her States Reform Act will receive a hearing.
Read Nadler’s full email to the BOWL PAC list below:
SUBJECT: My name is Jerry Nadler and I support legalization
As the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I am pleased to report that we have never been closer to ending the federal prohibition of cannabis than we are today.
Next week, the House will again vote on my Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, the first bill ever to receive a vote and PASS in a chamber of Congress that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
For years, BOWL PAC’s Justin Strekal and I have worked together on this vital issue and together we have made historic progress in advancing cannabis reform in Congress.
Now more than ever, the mission is clear: we’re going to end prohibition.
But just saying that provides little solace to the 959 people a day who are arrested for a marijuana-related crime. That is why we must simultaneously keep pressure on the House and do whatever it takes to overcome the Senate filibuster and Leader Mitch McConnell’s prohibitionist Republican front.
I’ll continue to do my part in the House and I know Justin and BOWL PAC will do theirs in the Senate this fall.
Yours in ending federal prohibition,
House Judiciary Committee
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.