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Cannabis Bills Proliferate In U.S. Congress

March 12, 2019

So much competing cannabis legislation is floating around Congress these days it can be hard to keep it all straight.

Last week, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act to the House. The bill, which boasts over 100 sponsors, would prevent federal banking regulators from penalizing banks for “providing financial services to a cannabis-related legitimate business provider” or state agencies presiding over such activity. Cannabis enterprises still operate on a predominantly cash basis due to banks’ fear of prosecution under existing federal law. Access to proper banking and financial services would be a major boon to the industry.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Congressional Cannabis Caucus member Rep. Don Young (R-AK) have put forth the Ending the Federal Prohibition Act and the Marijuana Data Collection Act. The former is a reintroduction of simplified legislation designed to legalize and deschedule cannabis without consideration to factors like regulation, taxation, and justice reform. The second bill would mandate a report on legalization’s effects, specifically relating to those issues.

Lastly, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) have reintroduced their comprehensive suite of legislation. It includes the Marijuana Justice Act, to legalize, deschedule, and reform the criminal justice processes surrounding cannabis convictions; the REFER Act, centered on preventing federal agencies from “interfering in state and local cannabis laws;” and the RESPECT Resolution, to highlight the continued absence of people of color from the cannabis industry. Lee is a co-sponsor of both Perlmutter and Gabbard’s legislation. All remain in the earliest stages of congressional consideration.

As Congressional debate on the subject continues, a new Quinnipiac poll of 1,120 registered voters found that a 60% majority believe “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the U.S.”—Danny Sullivan

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