There is so much breaking news in the cannabis world at the moment that it is hard to keep up. Multiple cannabis reform bills have been introduced in Congress and the House Financial Services Committee is addressing banking access for state-legal cannabis businesses. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision the possibility of federal cannabis legalization in my lifetime!
I love that some of our elected officials have a sense of humor. The bills for cannabis reform have been appropriately name S420 and HR420.
Senate Bills S420, S421 and S422 were filed this week by cannabis advocate, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Here are the main points for the 3 bills:
- Deschedule cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) as a Schedule I drug, where it was relegated in 1970
- Create a federal excise tax on legal sales, similar to alcohol
- Issue permits for businesses engaged in the sale of cannabis products
- Authorize regulations on the packaging and labeling of cannabis products
- Use the same advertising guidelines for cannabis that exist for alcohol
- Align Federal and State cannabis policies
- Exclude the CSA from jurisdiction over state-legal cannabis activity
- Allow cannabis companies access to banks
- Eliminate prohibition on cannabis advertising
- Expunge criminal records
- Protect immigrants from deportation for cannabis offenses
- Allow doctors with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend cannabis
- Allow state-legal cannabis businesses to take normal business tax deductions available to those in other industries
S422 is the only one of the 3 bills of Senator Wyden’s that has co-sponsors; Senators Rand Paul, (R-KY), Michael Bennett (D-CO) and Patty Murray (D-WA).
Senator Wyden, a longtime cannabis advocate, recognizes that continued federal prohibition is wrong. Furthermore, he believes that the consequences of this unjust law have ruined too many lives. It has also quashed too many economic opportunities which would have provided revenue for state governments and created hundreds of thousands of jobs. “It is time for Congress to respect the will of voters in Oregon and nationwide, who are demanding common-sense drug policies.”
House Bill 420 “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act”
Longtime cannabis advocate and activist House Representative Earl Blumenaur (D-OR03) filed a comparable bill this week in the House of Representatives. For years, Rep Blumenaur has co-sponsored federal spending bill riders to prohibit the DOJ from using federal monies to shut down state-legal medical cannabis businesses.
Rep Blumenaur is also the Chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus which was created in 2017. It is a bipartisan group whose goal is to align federal laws prohibiting cannabis usage with those states whose laws permit it. The other 3 members of the Caucus include Reps Barbara Lee (D-CA), Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Don Young (R-OH).
Here are the main points of this bill:
- Remove cannabis from the CSA and regulate it like alcohol
- The enforcement of cannabis laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will be replaced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will assume the same oversight over cannabis products as it does towards alcohol
- By treating cannabis like alcohol, interstate commerce will be allowed. This will help Rep Blumenauer’s home state of Oregon where the lack of restrictions on the number of cultivation licenses issued has led to oversupply of cannabis. This has caused prices to plummet
Legalization would also significantly increase the need for tamper-proof and child-proof packaging that would be required to comply with new federal regulations.
The cannabis real estate investment market would also greatly benefit from legalization as all 50 states would open up to expansion of legal cannabis and adjunct businesses.
Bill To Give Cannabis Businesses Access to Banks in Legal Cannabis States Gets House Committee Hearing
A bipartisan bill that would give cannabis businesses access to banking and financial institutions in states where cannabis has been legalized will receive a House Financial Services Committee hearing. Federal banking regulators would be prohibited from discouraging or penalizing banks which service state-legal cannabis businesses.
This is unprecedented in US history. The sponsors are Rep Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Rep Denny Heck (D-WA) with support by GOP Reps Warren Davidson and Steve Stivers from Ohio.
The legislation will help those businesses that do not produce or directly sell cannabis or cannabis-related products but who provide services for the cannabis industry. Many of these adjunct businesses faced account closures by major banks for fear of federal reprisals.
Perlmutter intends to introduce the bill in the next few weeks and hopes there will be a crossfiled bill in the Senate.
Source: forbes.com, Senator Files ‘420’ Marijuana Bill To Legalize It Federally, Tom Angell, Feb 8, 2019
Motleyfool.com, A Marijuana “420” Bill Was Just Introduced in Congress, Sean Williams, Jan 12, 2019
Denverpost.com, Marijuana Banking Proposal Gets First-Ever Hearing in U.S. House Committee, Judith Kohler, Feb 14, 2019