On Tuesday, Senator Cory Booker of NJ introduced a bill that would amend the Controlled Substances Act and remove the federal prohibition on marijuana.
This bill follows Senator Sanders (VT) attempt in 2015.
What it’d do
If this bill is legalized, it would do a number of different things:
- Remove marijuana form the federal list of control substances. (Marijuana is currently listed as a schedule 1 drug with heroin and LSD)
- Expunges people who have been convicted for use and possession of marijuana
- Incentives states to change their laws to fall in line with the federal laws changes by withholding federal money.
- Creates a community reinvestment fund that can support community resources and funds for those affected by marijuana laws.
For the legal cannabis industry – this represents a hope of federal support given Attorney General Jeff Session’s notable contempt for the substance, and fears that he may begin prosecuting those engaging in the sale of marijuana even in states where it is legal.
The industry is a growing industry, of more than 6 billion in sales last year, and is expected to continue to rise.
Current federal law makes interstate commerce virtually impossible, and may restrict access to certain banking options. In addition, the necessary investment for truly rapid growth is hindered due to existing federal bans. Booker’s bill joins a host of other related legislation including Rep. Ed Perimutter (CO), who introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, which is currently in committee review from the 114th congress, but earlier this year released H.R 2215 the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2017, which seeks to create protections for financial services that cater to legal marijuana businesses and keep federal regulators from terminating FDIC coverage, penalize, or incentive institutions.
In addition to that, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR) introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act would create an exception to IRS code to allow business operating to take business deductions relating to the sale of marijuana.
Bookers legislation hopefully will ease a lot of the economic anxiety around cannabis related businesses, but it faces an uphill battle. Congress remains Republican-controlled, and many indicate opposition to legalization.
However, there is some bipartisan support, and public opinion continues to sway more and more in favor of legalization. Only time will tell what happens with this bill, but I know many of the industry have high hopes.
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