April 01, 2022

Watson Coleman Votes To Advance Justice, Decriminalize Cannabis

Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) voted for historic criminal justice reform legislation to advance racial and economic justice. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act will expunge the records of those harmed by cannabis criminalization, create opportunities for all to participate in the legal cannabis industry and decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.

“The decades-long War on Drugs has devastated communities of color and caused the United States’ incarceration rate to exceed those of human rights-abusing governments like Russia, Belarus, and Iran. Decriminalizing cannabis is a monumental, necessary step toward achieving racial justice and ending our country’s over-incarceration problem,” said Watson Coleman. “I was proud to vote for the MORE Act, which would overturn many of our nation’s failed, unjust drug policies and deliver justice for New Jerseyans. By passing this crucial legislation, the Democratic House is following New Jersey’s lead and paving a new pathway to prosperity for communities that were destroyed by the War on Drugs. 

Despite reform laws passed in 47 states, including New Jersey, federal cannabis criminalization continues to disproportionately harm people of color and hold many back from the benefits of the legal cannabis marketplace.  People of color are four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis offenses than white people and are often targeted for longer prison sentences.  Furthermore, because prior cannabis convictions bar many Americans from entering the legal cannabis industry, only one-fifth of cannabis businesses are minority-owned. Only four percent are Black-owned.

Like similar legislation that the Democratic House passed in 2020, the MORE Act will help ensure that New Jerseyans harmed by criminalization can take full advantage of the legal and growing cannabis industry.  In addition to expunging cannabis-related convictions and removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, the bill promotes equity in the cannabis industry and funds re-entry services for Americans harmed by cannabis criminalization.

“The MORE Act is only one plank in House Democrats’ platform of advancing racial, economic, and social justice,” said Watson Coleman. “We will stay in this fight until Congress passes sweeping criminal justice reform and opens the door to a fairer, more prosperous future for all.”