Civil rights groups are putting pressure on Congress to approve cannabis legislation

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Major cannabis reform is likely to come this year as more public support emerges

A coalition of major advocacy groups, including the ACLU and NAACP, is beginning to get agitated with the slow progress being made with cannabis reform on Capitol Hill. The alliance is now putting pressure on congressional leaders to hold a vote on a House bill to federally legalize marijuana by the end of this month, which might help produce federal cannabis reform sooner rather than later.

In a letter sent to House leadership last Friday, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), which represents more than 220 national organizations, said that the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act needs to be approved quickly. The act cleared the chamber last year and was recently refiled. Since the House approved the legislation last year, “the circumstances of this past year have made the War on Drugs even more untenable and amplified the voices of those demanding transformation in our criminal-legal system,” the groups wrote.

“In the face of a growing national dialogue on discriminatory law enforcement practices, including the disproportionate policing of drug use in communities of color, transforming our criminal-legal system and redressing its harms is more relevant and more pressing than ever before,” the letter adds. “Marijuana reform represents a modest but necessary first step toward that transformation and toward repairing the harm wrought by the War on Drugs. The MORE Act remains the most effective and equitable way forward.”

The group, which also includes the Human Rights Campaign, Anti-Defamation League, National Organization for Women and People for the American Way, asserts that cannabis criminalization continues to drive mass, unnecessary incarceration and deprives citizens of federal assistance. Approving the MORE Act is the best available means to correct some of those issues.