Will the MORE Act Help People Already Convicted of Marijuana Crimes?
Yes. Under the MORE Act, marijuana legalization would be retroactive for many individuals by allowing people with prior federal marijuana convictions to get their criminal records expunged and allowing certain inmates serving prison time for federal marijuana offenses to get their sentences reduced or vacated.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, known as the “MORE Act,” would decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the federal government’s schedule of controlled substances, a list of illegal drugs in various categories according to the alleged danger they pose. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I controlled substance, placing it in the same category as heroin, while drugs like cocaine are only Schedule II.
If the MORE Act is signed into law, marijuana will no longer be a scheduled controlled substance under federal law, meaning federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors will no longer be able to prosecute individuals or companies for the possession, manufacture, or distribution of marijuana. Even more impactful, however, will be the provisions of the MORE Act that make marijuana legalization retroactive for people with prior marijuana convictions or who are currently serving time in prison for marijuana offenses.
To help those individuals gain retroactive relief, the MORE Act would establish a “Cannabis Justice Office.” Within a year, each federal district would issue orders expunging non-violent federal cannabis offenses committed by juveniles and notify other affected individuals. Any person with a prior federal marijuana conviction who is not currently serving time in prison or on probation would be able to file a motion for expunging their marijuana convictions. Qualified individuals who cannot afford a lawyer may have a lawyer appointed to them.
Many individuals currently serving time in federal prison for non-violent cannabis offenses will also be able to file motions asking the courts to review their sentences under the MORE Act, in addition to requesting expungement and restriction of their criminal records. In cases where an inmate’s convictions might not be eligible to be expunged, there may be a possibility that the inmate still qualifies for a sentence reduction or vacated sentence. Some individuals may not be eligible for sentence reductions or expungements under the MORE Act, however, such as individuals who received aggravated role enhancements at their sentencing or whose offenses also involved firearms or acts of violence.
The MORE Act would make marijuana legalization retroactive for people who have lost federal protections and benefits due to cannabis-related convictions. These individuals can have those benefits restored, cannabis-related violations by individuals on parole or probation will be eliminated, and the denial of security clearances and cannabis licenses for those with prior convictions will be reversed. In addition, cannabis offenses will no longer be grounds for the deportation of an individual, which could lead to future reforms in immigration law.
If passed, the MORE Act’s marijuana decriminalization would represent a landmark reform for our country’s federal drug laws and stop all federal prosecutions involving simple marijuana distribution or manufacturing. Marijuana legalization would also be retroactive, allowing individuals with prior federal marijuana convictions to get their records cleared and allowing certain inmates with federal marijuana convictions to get their sentences reduced or vacated.
For more information on how our firm can help you or someone you know in a case involving federal or state marijuana offenses, contact our experienced marijuana defense lawyers,
Page Pate is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, civil litigation, and whistleblower representation. Page is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Top 100 Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers, and named to the list of Super Lawyers for the past 15 consecutive years. Page is a frequent expert legal analyst for local and national media and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia Law School. Read Page’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Page on Twitter @pagepate and on Linkedin.