Federal Cannabis Legislation Roundup: Part 3
Written by on July 7, 2022
A few weeks ago, we published comprehensive overviews (Part 1 and Part 2) of all the federal bills floating around Congress intended to decriminalize cannabis. Since then, there have been a few important developments of federal cannabis bills in Congress. This post summarizes those developments.
Pro-Reform Candidate Wins Republican Primary in South Carolina
Okay, this first one isn’t about federal cannabis bills. But it’s still important. Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC), sponsor of the States Reform Act (SRA) introduced in Congress last year, won the South Carolina First District primary race against Trump-endorsed Katie Arrington. On June 14, the Associated Press called the race for Mace with Mace getting 53 percent of the votes and Arrington getting 45%. Mace said that winning the primary despite being attacked for supporting cannabis legalization “shows that the only place that this is controversial is in Washington, D.C.” Mace also said that any candidate who attacks a competitor over their reform position will “lose big.” Mace’s primary win is good news for the SRA. While the bill faces an uncertain future due to the other various cannabis reform bills in Congress, Mace stated that she feels her bill is the only bill that could attract enough bipartisan support to be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Whether she wins reelection will be determined in November.
SAFE Banking Act Excluded from Manufacturing Legislation
A bicameral conference committee is negotiating a manufacturing bill that apparently will not include marijuana banking reform. A group that included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-NY), and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) met to scale down the bill and expedite the passage of the legislation before the August recess. This included keeping the Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act out of the legislation, requested by Republicans. The exclusion of the SAFE Banking Act was met with criticism, particularly from Act sponsor Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Representative Blumenauer. Failure to include the Act, according to Representative Perlmutter, means that cannabis companies will continue having to do business in all cash.
Representatives Introduce Bill Targeting Veterans
On June 23, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Mast (R-FL) reintroduced the Veterans Equal Access Act. Representatives Blumenauer and Mast are both co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The Act has been introduced in Congress numerous times to bipartisan support, though the Act has not been enacted yet. The Act would permit doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prescribe medical marijuana to patients, if medical marijuana is legal in the state. Blumenauer and Mast are optimistic about the bill’s future, simply because this incremental veteran reform effort can attract support from members of Congress who are not yet ready to support widespread cannabis legalization. In addition to the Act, Blumenauer and Mast also sponsor greater cannabis legalization legislation, as Blumenauer introduced the Medical Marijuana Research Act in October 2021 and Mast co-sponsors the PREPARE Act which was introduced this past April.
Representatives Introduce Bill Addressing Access to Financial Services
Also on June 23, Representatives Troy Carter (D-LA) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) introduced the Capital Lending and Investment for Marijuana Businesses (CLIMB) Act. If passed, state-legal marijuana businesses would be eligible to be listed on national stock exchanges and have access to additional financial services. The aim of this bill is to protect private financial institutions, national securities exchanges, and market participants in listing or trading cannabis-related business securities. In this sense, federal agencies would be protected from penalties from other agencies, such as the Department of Justice. The bill would hopefully remedy the non-equitable access to financial services that has been hurting cannabis-related businesses for so long.
We will continue to track developments of federal cannabis bills in Congress. It is an exciting time, and momentum for change only seems to be growing.