HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — There is currently a push at the federal level to decriminalize marijuana. Later this month, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.
One of the main aspects of the MORE Act would be the creation of a process to expunge past marijuana convictions. The bill would also remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to decide if they want to legalize it.
Harlingen attorney Rick Barrera, says expunging would clear someone’s record. He adds this is important because a past marijuana conviction can really hinder people’s basic needs in life, like applying for an apartment lease or student loans.
“Down here in the Valley, especially you have a lot of people that are brilliant, dedicated law-abiding people, who have one simple personal usage conviction. Maybe it was a weekend at the island, or whatever when they were 19-years-old, and that affects their entire life,” says Barrera.
Barrera also says if approved, the MORE Act would allow for those with a past conviction from 10 or 20 years ago, to be able to get better jobs in nursing or teaching. Barrera adds this could have a positive impact on the economy.
Additionally, the MORE Act would allow for a 5% sales tax on marijuana or related products for the creation of an opportunity trust fund. This fund would support various programs and services for individuals and businesses impacted by the war on drugs.
The bill would also allow sentencing review hearings, related to federal cannabis offenses.
For the bill to become law, the U.S. Senate would also have to approve the measure. If you would like to learn about the MORE Act, you can click here.