Crist Votes to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) released the following statement on House passage of H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) Act, historic legislation to right past wrongs through reforming cannabis regulation at the federal level.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 228-164, would end the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, enacting sensible cannabis reform that will allow state and local governments the ability to create legal frameworks to regulate cannabis as they see fit, abiding by the will of the people.

The MORE Act comes as communities of color continue to suffer and our veterans are denied care. Black Americans are nearly 4 times more likely to be criminally apprehended for cannabis use than their white peers, despite level rates of use. And veterans, who are twice as likely to use cannabis for medical treatment, are denied legal medical marijuana prescriptions by the VA.

“We know that people across racial and income levels use marijuana at the same rate. And yet, for decades, it's been poor, Black, and/or Hispanic folks targeted for prison on marijuana charges,” said Rep. Crist. “That tells me that marijuana has been legal now for a while if you had the right skin tone or the right paycheck. It's not fair, it’s unjust, and it's been hurting communities of color and poor folks for too long. Cannabis prohibition also keeps medical cannabis out of the hands of veterans in need. That's why state after state is approving legalization, and why the federal government should follow their lead and work to right the wrongs of the past.”

By removing federal marijuana restrictions and allowing states to legalize if they choose, the federal government could collect over $100 billion in tax revenue annually, funds which would support small businesses and those harmed by marijuana enforcement. Florida has already taken steps towards cannabis reform, voting in 2016 to make medical marijuana legal through passage of Constitution Amendment 2, a measure supported by Congressman Crist.

Crist has long championed cannabis and criminal justice reform. As Governor, Crist restored the civil rights for over 155,000 non-violent offenders, and he was a vocal supporter of Amendment 4 to restore the voting rights of close to 1.4 million Floridians with former felony convictions.

In Congress, he introduced the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act that would protect veterans’ cannabis treatment options while securing their ability to be gainfully employed by the federal government, the largest employer of veterans. Crist is also a cosponsor of the SAFE Banking Act that would update obsolete banking regulations that limit access to financial services for cannabis businesses. And he has consistently pressed senior Treasury officials of the dangers to small businesses and communities of being forced into all cash operations. From his powerful post on the Appropriations Committee, he secured provisions similar to the goals of both Fairness in Federal Drug Testing and SAFE Banking.

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