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Cannabis Reform Advocate Cautions The Reintroduced MORE Act May Not Achieve Its Intended Effects

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Cannabis News Update June 11, 2021

Today in cannabis news: A U.S. flag made of locally sourced hemp is raised over the Colorado state Capitol for Hemp Week; recent polling by the ACLU and the Drug Policy Alliance shows that two-thirds of Americans say the War on Drugs must cease, and they favor the decriminalization of possessing currently banned substances; and a cannabis reform advocate who obtained clemency from then-President Donald Trump cautions that the reintroduced MORE Act would not achieve its intended effects, particularly in regards to mass incarceration.

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** First up: For the second year in a row, per the request of state Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado Hemp Week was celebrated in the state with the raising of a hemp-made United States flag at the Colorado Capitol.

Since their time in the United States House of Representatives, Polis has had a particular fondness for hemp flags. On July 4, 2013, the then-Congressperson Polis used their influence on Capitol Hill to raise Colorado local Michael Bowman’s hemp flag over the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., regardless of the fact that the flag’s fabric was then federally prohibited.

Polis has made significant commitments to the state’s hemp sector since taking office in 2018, notably establishing the Colorado Hemp Advancement & Management Plan (CHAMP) Initiative following the Farm Bill, which federally approved commercial hemp production in late 2018. New lab testing requirements, greater availability of financial services, and increased studies into more dependable hemp seeds and genetics are all goals of the initiative, which is overseen by the state Department of Agriculture.

** Next up: As per a recent study from the ACLU and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), two-thirds of Americans say the War on Drugs must cease, and they favor the decriminalization of possessing presently banned substances.

The poll follows the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of the War on Drugs, which started a regime of widespread prosecution for behaviors that activists and specialists believe must be alternatively addressed as a public health issue.

Of those polled, 65% thought that the U.S. should withdraw from the War on Drugs. Additionally 66% want a more systematic approach of “eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession and reinvesting drug enforcement resources into treatment and addiction services,” a move dubbed as “decriminalization” by supporters.

Surprisingly, the survey also indicated that a majority of Americans (83%) believe the War on Drugs is a failure, a significant disparity considering that a significant chunk of those polled clearly do not want to abandon what they see as an unsuccessful approach.

The War on Drugs is regarded as a failure by 83% of Democrats, 85% of Independents, and 82% of Republicans, according to party identification.

** Last up: Cannabis would be removed from the database of federally banned substances under the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was recently reintroduced in the United States House of Representatives. Moreover, it places a strong emphasis on social equity, including allowing for resentencing for persons charged with federal cannabis offenses.

However, in a letter to congressional legislators, Craig Cesal, a cannabis reform advocate who obtained clemency from then-President Donald Trump for a cannabis offense cautioned that the measure, as worded, would not have the intended effects.

Assistance may be out of grasp for a sizeable portion of federal convicts, according to the letter, due to the legislation providing the courts consequential acquiescence in deciding upon resentencing requests, but failing to determine cases where there are extenuating circumstances such as firearm possession or substantial amounts of money at the moment of arrest.

Cesal highlighted three particular provisions of the MORE Act that, depending on the verbiage, might keep individuals imprisoned for cannabis possession and related activity:

The measure would provide “discretion to the sentencing court as to whether the marijuana conviction or related conduct would be expunged.”

The measure would not “provide relief for additional counts of conviction inextricably relying on the criminality of the marijuana offense.”

And persons “whose offense involved five or more people, which is most marijuana offenses, would be specifically excepted from relief under the MORE Act.”

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