WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit dedicated to drug policy and criminal justice reform, penned a letter to the U.S House of Representatives urging its members to support the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (H.R. 3884) ("MORE Act"). The historic piece of legislation, which will be voted on tomorrow, December 4, 2020, seeks to federally decriminalize cannabis and provide various forms of relief to those who have borne the brunt of America's unjust and discriminatorily-enforced policy of marijuana prohibition.
Last Prisoner Project's Executive Director, Sarah Gersten, notes in the letter: "Despite a massive shift in public sentiment (according to Pew, over ninety percent of American adults disapprove of the federal government's current approach to cannabis), Congress continues to undermine the will of the very people they've been elected to represent. By continuing to endorse a policy that runs counter to both public opinion and scientific consensus, our elected officials are actively enabling the continued civic and economic disenfranchisement of millions of Americans each year."
While the passage of the MORE Act would not legalize marijuana nationwide, it would work to end the criminalization of cannabis usage — a costly and ineffective policy that results in over 600,000 arrests every year. As the Last Prisoner Project's recent study illustrated, this counterproductive effort has done little to ensure public health and safety, but much to destroy lives, devastate communities, and exacerbate the inequities and injustices our nation continues to grapple with today.
The passage of the MORE Act is a critical first step in ending marijuana prohibition and empowering our nation's health experts to advance an evidence-based, public health-focused approach to American drug policy.
In advance of the MORE Act vote, the Last Prisoner Project's "Demand MORE" campaign is encouraging people across the country to write their representatives and urge them to vote in favor of the bill.
The letter reads in full:
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy,
As a not-for-profit focused on redressing the past and continuing harms of cannabis criminalization, the Last Prisoner Project represents a broad, bipartisan coalition of people working—like you—to ensure the safety, security, and prosperity of all Americans.
And like you, we believe in the importance of liberty, opportunity, and equal justice under the law. Unfortunately, our nation's current policy of marijuana prohibition not only fails to live up to these American values—it actively undermines them.
The evidence is overwhelming: our century-long, unduly punitive crusade has failed to curb problematic substance use. But where these policies have succeeded are in their needless entanglement of millions of Americans in our already-bloated criminal justice system, incurring tremendous human and financial costs. And as recent events have sadly illustrated, the burden of this unjust and counterproductive campaign disproportionately falls on the most vulnerable segments of our society.
To their credit, forty-seven states have amended their laws to reflect a more common-sense, public health-focused approach to cannabis policy. In fact, this election cycle alone, states as demographically and ideologically diverse as New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota, and Arizona officially acknowledged the abject failure of prohibition by voting to allow the responsible use of marijuana within their borders.
Despite this shift in public sentiment (over ninety percent of Americans support an end to federal marijuana prohibition), Congress continues to undermine the will of the people you've been elected to represent. By continuing to endorse a policy that runs contrary to both public opinion and scientific consensus, Congress continues to enable the civic and economic disenfranchisement of millions of Americans. Further, your inaction on this issue threatens the health, safety, and security of all Americans—especially the over half a million people who will be arrested for simple marijuana possession this year.
In the coming days, the House of Representatives will have the opportunity to vote on the MORE Act, a piece of legislation that would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. While the MORE Act would not legalize marijuana nationwide, it would end federal prohibition—a counterproductive policy that has done little to ensure public health and safety, but much to destroy lives, devastate communities, and exacerbate the inequities and injustices our nation continues to grapple with today. The passage of the MORE Act is a critical first step in ending our costly and ineffective "War on Drugs" and empowering our nation's health experts to advance an evidence-based, common-sense, public health-focused approach to American drug policy.
A vote in favor of the MORE Act is a vote against fear-mongering, misinformation, and corrupt special interests. It's a vote in favor of scientific fact. It's a vote for liberty, justice, and equality under the law. It's a vote that will work to uplift our communities and ensure the American dream is accessible to all.
This Friday, you have a historic opportunity to vote to put the health, safety, and shared prosperity of all American communities first.
We implore you to seize it.
About Last Prisoner Project
The Last Prisoner Project (LPP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cannabis-related criminal justice reform. As the United States moves away from the criminalization of cannabis, giving rise to a major new industry, there remains the fundamental injustice inflicted upon those who have suffered under America's unjust policy of cannabis prohibition. Through intervention, advocacy, and awareness campaigns, the Last Prisoner Project works to redress the past and continuing harms of these inhumane and ineffective laws and policies. Visit www.lastprisonerproject.org or text FREEDOM to 24365 to donate and learn more.
SOURCE Last Prisoner Project