On September 23, Playboy Enterprises’ CEO Ben Kohn issued an Op-Ed laying out a policy advocacy program with the goal in mind of decriminalizing marijuana on a federal level via the passage of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act as well as the establishment of a foundation that would cover the funding necessary to expunge the criminal records of those convicted of low-level federal marijuana possession, distribution, and sale offenses.
The MORE Act, sponsored by Senator and Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris, seeks to remove all criminal consequences for the possession, sale, or distribution of marijuana at the federal level by declassifying marijuana as a Schedule I illegal controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The MORE Act mandates that all convictions and/or arrest records of crimes be automatically expunged upon request that occurred on or after May 1, 1971. The Act also prohibits a person with a cannabis/marijuana related conviction from being denied federal benefits, including access to federally subsidized housing, or a federal security clearance. Lastly, the Act makes it illegal to deport or deny immigration benefits for a person accused of a federal crime only related to marijuana possession, distribution, or sale.
The MORE Act additionally authorizes the Small Business Administration to provide loans to open retail establishments that sell cannabis products, with preferences for licenses going to those who: (1) make less than 250% of the federal poverty guidelines and (2) have suffered a criminal consequence related to a federal marijuana crime. Furthermore, all cannabis products sold in the United States would be taxed at an additional 5% with tax revenue going to a “Community Reinvestment Grant Program” to “provide eligible entities with funds to administer services for individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.” Services would include job training, literacy programs, legal aid, health education programs, and reentry services.
Playboy, in conjunction with the Marijuana Policy Project, Veterans Cannabis Project, Eaze Momentum, NORML, and Last Prisoner Standing, promised to contribute $50,000 to a foundation to support expungement services and mentor marginalized cannabis entrepreneurs as well as an unspecified amount of resources to not only assist in the passage of the MORE Act, but also promote initiatives designed to alleviate the collateral consequences of marijuana crimes generally, such as the National Expungement Week.
In a subsequent press release discussing the Op-Ed, Chief Marketing Officer Rachel Webber stated, “(a)s stewards of an iconic champion of progress, it is our duty to carry on the work Playboy began over five decades ago, by advocating for marijuana law reform and promoting the positive roles cannabis plays in people’s lives as a form of recreation, free expression, and health. We are proud to commit our platforms and resources to support this cause and we are grateful for the partnership and support of the organizations playing leading roles in advocating for legislative reform, social justice, and cultural destigmatization.”