Wow, we guess stranger things have happened before… Yes, Joe Kennedy III, the same Joe Kennedy formally associated with Kevin Sabet’s SAM, has co-sponsored a comprehensive legalization bill. This is exciting, people! While Joe Kennedy III might not be the first high profile politician to change his or her mind on the topic, what is strange is why he wasn’t in support in the first place. It’s not like John F. Kennedy didn’t reportedly use cannabis while living in the White House.
So what is the MORE Act and why is it important?
Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act
The House Judiciary Committee passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act in a 24-10 vote on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019, setting the stage for a full floor vote.
The approved legislation, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would federally de-schedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions and impose a five percent tax on sales, revenue from which would be reinvested in communities most impacted by the drug war.
It would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearance due to its use.
Rep. Joe Kennedy
With Rep. Joe Kennedy’s cosponsorship yesterday, January 8th, 2020, marks a notable change from the Massachusetts Democrat previous track record of being a long-time opponent to cannabis. The congressman signed on to the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, raising the total number of cosponsors to 67. The legislation, which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last year, is soon expected to be taken up in another panel, Energy and Commerce, that Kennedy sits on.
This latest action stands in stark contrast to the congressman’s previous record. Not only did Kennedy unsuccessfully campaign against legalization in his home state of Massachusetts, he voted against modest bipartisan House measures such as an amendment allowing veterans to access medical cannabis and another shielding children and families who use CBD from federal enforcement.
But in the months after Kennedy said he had a change of heart on the issue, he declined to sign onto specific legislation to end federal prohibition, instead choosing to cosponsor bills that would offer marijuana banking protections, require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to research into cannabis and direct federal agencies to study the impact of state-level legalization.
Kennedy’s MORE Act cosponsorship signals that the congressman is prepared to match his newfound marijuana rhetoric with legislative action.
Time will only tell what the future of cannabis reform looks like on the federal level, but until that day that the plant is truly free for all to grow, let’s remember to take victories as they come.
H/T: Marijuana Moment