Congressman Panetta Signs On As Co-Sponsor Of Federal Decriminalization Bill

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) is co-sponsoring a bill that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, reassess marijuana convictions, and invest in local communities.

Panetta last week announced that he was co-sponsoring HR 3884, also known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act).

In September of 2019, Congressman Panetta voted for HR 1595, or the Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would allow cannabis businesses operating in legal states to access the banking system.

“The federal government has lagged behind as states like California continue to modernize how we regulate and decriminalize cannabis,” said Congressman Panetta. “The MORE Act not only deschedules cannabis at the federal level, it also provides a roadmap for states to legalize in a just and equitable manner.”

The MORE Act would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and apply retroactively to prior and pending convictions, allowing states to set their own policies.

Federal courts would be required to expunge prior convictions and, on motion, conduct re-sentencing hearings for those under supervision.

Under the MORE Act, the assessment of a 5 percent sales tax on cannabis products would be authorized to create an Opportunity Trust Fund, which would include the Community Reinvestment Grant Program, the Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program, and the Equitable Licensing Grant Program.

The three programs would provide licensing aid, employment assistance, loans, job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, and other assistance for economically disadvantaged individuals, small businesses, and others who have been disproportionately affected by cannabis criminalization.

The More Act would also allow Small Business Administration funding to be used for legitimate cannabis-related businesses as well as provide protection against discrimination for cannabis use, possession, and prior cannabis-related convictions.

The Act would also require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to gather data on cannabis industry demographics to ensure that economically-disadvantaged individuals and people of color are participating in the industry.