Safe-banking practices can be hard to come by for legal canna-businesses in states with adult-use and medicinal cannabis. The Controlled Substance Act classifies cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, precluding many banks from taking on cannabis clients. Banks’ unease is largely because the federal government could deem cannabis businesses as illegal drug traffickers or money launderers, even though they are abiding and working within state regulations. It’s an unfortunate reality for entrepreneurs and cannabis activists, leaving many to carry and deal with large amounts of cash; Hope could soon be on the horizon thanks to the bipartisan STATES Act.
The STATES Act would amend the Controlled Substance Act, allowing businesses to operate within traditional financial systems if they are legally acting within state laws. Experts believe the bill is in direct response to attorney general Jeff Session’s hardline stance on adult-use and medicinal cannabis. Session’s has publicly expressed his disdain for the drug, and has even hinted at the possibility of shutting down legal businesses where cannabis is currently used for medicinal purposes.
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) recently introduced the bill, which was drafted with the help of NORML, a nonprofit public-interest lobby that has fought for cannabis reform for the past 40 years. With the support of 12 state governors, and an endorsement coming directly from the White House, the proposed amendments could potentially happen sooner than later.
When asked about the bill at the G7 Summit, president Trump was eager to support his Republican Senator: “I know exactly what he [Garnder] is doing. We’re looking at it, but I will probably end up supporting that.”
In politics, momentum can be a powerful tool used to either sway or combat specific legislation. In the US, support for cannabis is currently at an all-time high. Canada’s recent move to legalize cannabis has furthered the US conversation, and it may be the final push the STATES Act needs to pass.
In an interview with The Hill, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) expressed his optimistic outlook on the bill: “This year will be the year that we can make great progress on this,” said Rohrabacher.
Although a nod from the president himself is a big step, it’s not enough, and neither is the support of 12 state governors. If the bill is to be voted on, it will need more support, specifically from high-profile cosponsors.
You can voice your support and make a difference by contacting your local representative and expressing your support for the States Act.