This episode we speak about groundbreaking progress of the MORE Act (S.2227) Introduced by our FIRST FEMALE VP, Kamala Harris.
The bill covers an array of elements to Decriminalize Cannabis federally. Additionally, the bill:
replaces statutory references to marijuana and marihuana with cannabis,
requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees,
establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,
imposes a 5% tax on cannabis products and requires revenues to be deposited into the trust fund,
makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,
prohibits the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions,
prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws on the basis of a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction), and
establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses.
Announcer: Information provided on this podcast does not, and is not intended to constitute legal advice. All information, content and materials available on this podcast are for entertainment purposes only. The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Cultiva Law. Now, without further ado, here are your exquisite esquires, Mio Asami and Fabiola Jimenez.
Fabiola Jimenez: Hey, squad! It’s Fabi Jimenez.
Mio Asami: And Mio Asami.
Fabiola Jimenez: Thanks for joining us today. For those of you who don’t know who we are, we are attorneys focusing on cannabis law based out of Seattle, with branches in Oregon and California.
Mio Asami: California represent!
Fabiola Jimenez: We’re both Cali girls. So, for today’s topic, and I do have to apologize if I sound lieke a guest cameo on the Golden Girls, because that’s just what I sound like right now. I’m recovering from a cold.
Mio Asami: It’s cold season, bug’s going around.
Fabiola Jimenez: but if this turns you on, I’m sorry. This is just super temporary.
Mio Asami: So, what do we have going on this week?
Fabiola Jimenez: So, MJBizCon is going on. it’s gonna be freaking wild. We’re heading out tomorrow. I gotta do a presentation in Olympia on cannabis regulations. So, doing a presentation in the morning, and then taking literally the next flight out to Vegas. We get to Vegas, and we’re just back-to-back events with the team down there. It’s gonna be pretty awesome. Mio, are you looking forward to MJBizCon?
Mio Asami: I’m super looking forward to it. it’s my first MJBizCon ever. I’ve never gone to it, so just… Literally a few months ago. But, anyway… but yeah, it’s my first ever. It’s huge, it’s gonna be off the cahin, literally, because, like Fabi said, back-to-back events. We have Fairchild, we have Minority Cannabis Coalition…
Fabiola Jimenez: We have a captains of industry luncheon happening… We have a lot of different events happening, so we’re super excited to be able to just connect to the people within the industry. So, we’ve already been getting a lot of messages through LinkedIn and Instagram, people trying to connect, so I know that the little bit of free time that we’re gonna have, I don’t think it’s gonna be much of a free time,. I think it’s gonna be pretty jam-packed with stuff.
Mio Asami: We’re excited to see what you all have, though.
Fabiola Jimenez: It’s gonna be wild.
Mio Asami: It’s gonna be super wild. And we’re excited to see how we can help you.
Fabiola Jimenez: Thank you. Shameless plug, but this is true. Today’s topic is gonna be the house bill. Mio, do you want to talk a little bit about this bill?
Mio Asami: Sure. So, recently, the house bill, I’m not quite sure what number it is, my apologies, but it’s called the MORE Act of 2019, backed by Kamala Harris who actually just dropped out of the Democratic race. So, the MORE act is like- It’s got a lot. So, we’ll break it down, but we’ll do it step by step. So, for anybody that doesn’t know, we will talk a little bit about a bill became a law.
Fabiola Jimenez: For sure. So, how does a bill become law? So, someone gets an idea, and they’re lie: This sounds fucking great, let’s make this into a law.” So, why don’t you take it away, Mio? How does a bill become law?
Mio Asami: So, we have somebody who has an idea about something that they want to make into a law, and then it gets introduced by a congressman or congresswoman, and then it goes to… and this is like super basic. So, it goes from an idea to somebody writing the law down, it goes to the House of Representatives, they vote on it, and if it gets passed in the house, it goes to the Senate, and if the Senate passes it, it goes to the President, and if the President says ‘okay’, he signs it. If he says no, he vetoes it, and then it goes back, and it’s a whole new process over again. So, it’s got kind of like a three-step approval process that it has to pass before it actually becomes a law. So, where the MORE Act currently stands is, it just passed the house, it’s waiting for a vote in the Senate, and we’ll see what happens with it.
Fabiola Jimenez: Definitely. So, that was point number one. Point number two, Mio, give us a brief overview of what the bill says, and some of the implications, because I know there’s been a lot going on.
Mio Asami: SO, I read the whole thing, and it’s interesting in the sense of… So, the basic point of it is that it decriminalizes marijuana, which there’s a difference between legalizing and decriminalizing. Decriminalizing just makes it so that in the future, if you’re caught with marijuana, then you’re not gonna be charged with anything. It’s not necessarily like it’s legal and you can go to a business with it and stuff like that. They’re just not gonna- It’s not gonna e listed as a drug that you can get charged for. So, that’s decriminalization. So, that’s basically what this bill is trying to do, and what’s interesting about it is that it’s retroactive, so anybody that is still in jail due to a federal cannabis conviction, they would not have that conviction anymore. It’s expunged, which also just means that it’s as if it never happened which his great, right? It’s something that we all hoped for. Especially in the sphere of legalizing. We need to do a lot to address those people that have been impacted by the war on drugs. So, yeah, that’s basically the gist of it. it’s more about decriminalization, like I said. It’s a step toward federal legalization. It’s not completely like, ‘hey, I can smoke on the street anywhere’, it’s just a step towards…
Fabiola Jimenez: It’s a step in the right direction. And that’s all that we can ask for, at this point. Any sort of federal regulations that are coming down the pipeline, we almost have to just be grateful that they’re taking these baby steps to make sure that we’re making progress.
Mio Asami: Anything to keep to conversation going, keeping it alive and keeping it going.
Fabiola Jimenez: For sure. And so, topic number three is talking about what are the odds that it will actually pass. Personally, if I can be totally frank with you, I don’t think it’ll pass. I don’t think it will ever not pass. I just think that with the current administration, the way it is, I really don’t think it’s gonna pass. I think it’s gonna die at the Senate. If by some sheer miracle it goes through the Senate, I think it’s’ gonna be vetoed, and it’s gonna just go back to the cycle. Our representatives and Congress folks are gonna have to make some edits and amendments, and with the presidential election coming up, there are a lot of things that are up in there that are gonna impact whether this is gonna pass or not. Again, I really don’t think that it will, but I don’t think it’s never gonna come up again. It’s definitely gonna come up again, and it’s gonna pass eventually. What the end bill is gonna look like, I’m still really not sure. It just depends on the administration. What do you think, Mio?
Mio Asami: I agree 100%. Especially, like you said, it’s timing. The Senate is controlled by the conservative republican party, so in all likelihood, it’s not gonna pass if it gets voted on any time this upcoming year, in 2020. We have elections coming up. These things go super slowly, right? Whenever you have a bill that you want the House to vote on it, and then the Senate, these things take years to pass, which is a frustrating amount of time to wait of you’re trying to get some action now, but at the same time, for a bill like this, maybe it actually might work in our favor if we pause it for now- Like, it passed in the House, and maybe this upcoming election we’ll vote out a lot of those red people, and if it gets to be more blue, and if the president turns into a blue president instead of an orange one…
Fabiola Jimenez: Holy shit dude, wow.
Mio Asami: So, instead of an orange one, it might pass, and maybe it won’t die anywhere. It’ll just be a matter of time, right?
Fabiola Jimenez: Sure.
Mio Asami: And like I said, the Act itself is doing a lot in the sphere of decriminalizing, and just the whole sphere of all the people that are in jail from a federal marijuana conviction. It’s a significant population of jail inmates right now, and the fact that this bill would allow them to be free, as long as that’s the only issue-
Fabiola Jimenez: Don’t get too excited. If it’s only what you’re in there for…
Mio Asami: If that’s your only charge… Which is also ridiculous. If you’re in there for years on end because you had some weed in your pocket, it’s ridiculous.
Fabiola Jimenez: But if you’re in there for weed and you murdered somebody…
Mio Asami: That’s a different story. But, the implication of all those people going free, and on top of them going free, it’s expunged. So they should, in theory…
Fabiola Jimenez: Housing is a bigger possibility…
Mio Asami: In theory, they get their voting rights back, if that’s the only felony.
Fabiola Jimenez: So, it has a lot of positive implications, should it go through, but again…
Mio Asami: It’s a lot. Because of the sheer amount that it’s trying to do, it could take a while before it actually gets passed into law.
Fabiola Jimenez: And that goes into our fourth point. What are the next steps, and what should we be looking out for? Personally, I think, again, because I don’t think it’s gonna pass…
Mio Asami: Also, we’re lawyers, so we have to think of the worst-case scenario at all times. So, that’s that part.
Fabiola Jimenez: And I also like to start drama. I’m just joking. But, personally, I do think that if it doesn’t pass, what’s gonna happen, regardless of where we’re at in the next few months, it’s gonna open up the doors for people to have this conversation on a much larger scale. So, there’s already talk of this bill passing through one third of the approval process, then people are gonna start looking at it and going, “well, if it’s able to go this far, then maybe I should reevaluate where I’m at, and what I think about it.” Because, if weed was really that terrible, why is it that these government officials are even contemplating going back and decriminalizing and legalizing this plant. So, I think, moving forward, this bill is going to spur a lot of different conversations within a lot of different industries, which is gonna de-stigmatize the topic and make it much more probable in the future to have legislation that really takes into account how awesome weed is, and how much revenue it can bring in, and how it heals people, and how it helps people. But we have to take it one step at a time. And even if it’s just crawling, and if we’re taking our first baby steps and we fall flat on our ass, just know that we can get up and every step is gonna be a little stronger than the last. And at this point, this is kind of where we have to be at, and we just have to be hopeful, stay educated, stay on top of our votes, being able to really weigh in and say what we want to say, and vote for representatives that really hold the same viewpoint as us. Because it is so easy to say that our vote doesn’t matter, and in the end it really does. I think- Stop being a keyboard hero, go out there and do your part. The elections are coming up, you gotta be active. You wanna make change, you wanna be able to help, it’s so important to have a voice and really make it be known, and you just don’t know how much your one vote turns into 2, then 4, then 8, when the whole squad is voting. Those numbers do add up. And I know it doesn’t sound like anything, but that’s where I stand. I we just have to look forward, even if it doesn’t go through the way that we want it to go through in the electoral cycle. I don’t think we’re dead in the water.
Mio Asami: I agree too. One of the articles that I was reading about this was saying that two-thirds of the population is for the bill, is pro-marijuana. Which his huge, and that’s across parties too.
Fabiola Jimenez: Everyone smoke’s weed.
Mio Asami: Let’s be real. And that’s across political parties. It’s regardless of whether you are blue or red or orange, or whichever color, there is a majority of the population- Two thirds is the majority, guys. It’s a lot more than a majority. In and of itself, that’s great. That’s a huge difference from what it used to be, even 10-15 years ago, and I think that’s partly because there has been a constant conversation going on with regards to legalizing it, and medicinal marijuana, and you know… Just all the different things, little steps that we’ve come- it’s so easy to look forward, that we have such a long way to go, but it’s also important to look back and be like, we’ve actually come really far with this. The fact that there’s only 11 states now that are still completely anti-marijuana- It might actually be 9, that are against marijuana. Everywhere else it’s either decriminalized, or medicinal, and recreational.
Fabiola Jimenez: Again, it’s making those strides, making those baby steps.
Mio Asami: it’s a slow process, but it’s moving.
Fabiola Jimenez: It definitely is moving. You and I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t moving. The way that it is. All of our CBD clients, and all of our international clients… our career paths would be very, very different if we weren’t making massive strides within the cannabis industry. But, either way, that’ where we’re at right now.
Mio Asami: And in think what’s also important is that you guys, the listeners and the person within the industry, you guys are going to be the people- the governments and the rule-makers are gonna turn to you guys and see how you guys have been regulating yourselves, how you guys have been doing everything thus far, and looking to you guys for guidance for how to structure these laws, and how to move forward. So, it is important to stay on top of what’s going, and also just to make sure that you’re doing everything the way that you want to, in the sense that it’s the right way, and you’re not cutting corners. Cough, cough, California.
Fabiola Jimenez: California is a shit show.
Mio Asami: it is a shit show, but… So, it’s important to stay within the legal realm, because like I said, that’s gonna be who the rule-makers are gonna turn to when they need guidance on how to structure regulations.
Fabiola Jimenez: For sure. So, we’ll keep you guys posted as more bills come our way, which I’m sure they will. Keep an eye out, even if you’re in an area where there is a moratorium, and there’s no weed, you’ll be surprised how quickly local governments can act and change and pivot, because they are missing out on the opportunity to cater to that demographic, and be able to tax the hell out of our cannabis clients, but to grow the industry, and to grow little [inaudible] towns, which is kind of crazy, because I’m from eastern Washington, and I know there’s one shop that’s literally in the middle [inaudible], my parents live, like, five minutes away, and it’s fucking wild. This little shack is just killing it out there. And so, I have to say- So, my little town won’t allow a fucking McDonald’s, but they’re like fine, we’ll just put a weed store there. But that shows you- People are having this conversation, and even the most rural, obscure places are changing tune right now. So, we should stay hopeful that things are gonna move in this direction. Slowly, but surely, they’re moving in a positive direction. So, that concludes- Those are the four points, and our strain choice or our episode is…
Mio Asami: Liberty Haze.
Fabiola Jimenez: Which helps you with focusing, and being more happy and energetic, which I fucking need right now, because I feel like shit. I sound great right now.
Mio Asami: It’s a cold-recovery [inaudible].
Fabiola Jimenez: MJBizCon is definitely not gonna help with this. I am going to come back with no voice whatsoever, which I’m okay with.
Mio Asami: Snorting emergency in the corner. Sorry, guys.
Fabiola Jimenez: Yeah. That’s pretty accurate.
Mio Asami: Not gonna lie.
Fabiola Jimenez: If some of you see me, it’s just emergency. Don’t call the cops, I’m okay. Not like Pulp Fiction. I’m not gonna do one of those. But, we’ll see. So, we chose this because of the word ‘liberty’, and the fact that Congress needs to focus and get their shit together with this.
Mio Asami: Uphold the Liberty.
Fabiola Jimenez: America, amen.
Mio Asami: So, anyway, that concludes our episode today.
Fabiola Jimenez: So, the next episode is gonna be post-MJBizCon, which is- Trust me, bitch, when I tell you, it’s gonna be real juicy, because I’m gonna come back and tell you some stories. I mean, it’s Vegas.
Mio Asami: It’s not gonna stay in Vegas for us.
Fabiola Jimenez: And everything is gonna be recorded on the Snapchat. So, anyways, make sure to follow us on Instagram at Fabi at Cultiva Law.
Mio Asami: I’m Mio at Cultiva Law, and we also have our official Instagram.
Fabiola Jimenez: Cultivating conversations. We’re gonna be posting pretty much regularly now, until you tell us to shut the fuck up.
Mio Asami: And if you want any more information on any of the stuff that we talked about, the MORE Act, or Liberty Haze, we will be posting that on our Instagram.
Fabiola Jimenez: Or just send us an email, [email protected], or [email protected] So, we’re more than happy to have those conversations and connect with you off this podcast. All right, peace out. Bye.