Kustoff Votes Against Legalizing Marijuana on Federal Level


District 8 Representative David Kustoff

WASHINGTON, DC (December 4) — On Friday, Representative David Kustoff (TN-08) issued the following statement following his vote against the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019.

This bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s list of harmful narcotics. It would eliminate criminal penalties for manufacturing, distribution, and possession of marijuana, expunge a large number of federal marijuana related crimes, and it gives taxpayer dollars to the marijuana industry and services for convicted drug dealers.

“As a former U.S. Attorney, I have witnessed firsthand how narcotics like marijuana lead to further addiction and plague our communities,” said Rep. Kustoff. “This bill would only encourage more reckless use of the drug and undermine our law enforcement, while creating further challenges in West Tennessee and across the nation.”

This bill passed in the House on Friday, December 4, 2020 and goes to the Senate next for consideration. A portion of the text of the bill is cited below:

To decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.

The Congress finds as follows:

(1) The communities that have been most harmed by cannabis prohibition are benefiting the least from the legal marijuana marketplace.

(2) A legacy of racial and ethnic injustices, compounded by the disproportionate collateral consequences of 80 years of cannabis prohibition enforcement, now limits participation in the industry.

(3) 36 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam have adopted laws allowing legal access to cannabis, and 15 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have adopted laws legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use.

(4) A total of 47 States have reformed their laws pertaining to cannabis despite the Schedule I status of marijuana and its Federal criminalization.

(5) Legal cannabis sales totaled $9.5 billion in 2017 and are projected to reach $23 billion by 2022.

(6) According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), enforcing cannabis prohibition laws costs taxpayers approximately $3.6 billion a year.

(7) The continued enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws results in over 600,000 arrests annually, disproportionately impacting people of color who are almost 4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than their White counterparts, despite equal rates of use across populations.

(8) People of color have been historically targeted by discriminatory sentencing practices resulting in Black men receiving drug sentences that are 13.1 percent longer than sentences imposed for White men and Latinos being nearly 6.5 times more likely to receive a Federal sentence for cannabis possession than non-Hispanic Whites.

(9) In 2013, simple cannabis possession was the fourth most common cause of deportation for any offense and the most common cause of deportation for drug law violations.

(10) Fewer than one-fifth of cannabis business owners identify as minorities and only approximately 4 percent are black.

(11) Applicants for cannabis licenses are limited by numerous laws, regulations, and exorbitant permit applications, licensing fees, and costs in these States, which can require more than $700,000.

(12) Historically disproportionate arrest and conviction rates make it particularly difficult for people of color to enter the legal cannabis marketplace, as most States bar these individuals from participating.

(13) Federal law severely limits access to loans and capital for cannabis businesses, disproportionately impacting minority small business owners.

(14) Some States and municipalities have taken proactive steps to mitigate inequalities in the legal cannabis marketplace and ensure equal participation in the industry.

For more, visit https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr3884/text.