Demand for federal cannabis legislative change is in full swing. Congress is currently considering several bills related to cannabis legalization, business regulations, and banking. As the states continue to pass meaningful legislation through referendums and legislative bills, the federal government is taking notice, and parties within it are continually moving for change.
Cannabis laws are of national importance, despite the strides made by state governments. A large majority of Americans support changes to cannabis legalization and regulations. A nationwide Gallup poll found 68% of Americans support cannabis legalization, while an even more striking Pew Research poll found that 91% of Americans believe cannabis should be federally legalized for either medicinal or recreational purposes. Regardless of public opinion, it’s up to Congress to pass the required bills, so what is currently on the table?
The 117th Congress (2021-22) has been in power since January 3rd, 2021, and will continue to legislate until January 3rd, 2023. Any bill introduced during this period regarding cannabis that has not been struck down as of yet will be included in this list. Here are three worth highlighting.
The MORE Act was introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler on May 28th, 2021. The MORE Act seeks to do the following:
- Federally decriminalize cannabis
- Establish a process that streamlines federal cannabis charge expungements
- Change all federal statutory references to “marijuana” to cannabis
- Solving the cannabis industry’s tax problems
- Place a 5% federal excise tax on cannabis sales at the manufacturer level
- Allow SBA loans and services to be taken out by cannabis-related businesses
- Prevent the denial of federal benefits to those with cannabis-related criminal charges
- Mandates the BLS to publish regular data on the cannabis industry
The latest status of this bill is that it is in committee and is subject to amendment. This bill is ambitious by including everything from business improvements to criminal expungement related to cannabis.
Influential Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden introduced the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act on July 14th, 2021. This bill has the following provisions:
- Remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act
- Change the federal agency responsible for cannabis over from the DEA to the FDA and other organizations
- Permit full transfer of cannabis between states for interstate commerce
- Impose federal excise taxes on cannabis production
- Provide funding to states for cannabis charge expungement
- Give out SBA loans to historically disadvantaged groups involved with cannabis
- Establish various studies on the effects of cannabis on the brain and driving while under the influence of cannabis
- Add federal advertising regulations that prohibit marketing cannabis to children and young adults
- States will continue to have the power to legalize or not legalize cannabis; this is just a federal law change
The Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act will be presented to the Senate in April of 2022. This Act contains many of the same provisions as the MORE Act.
The SAFE Banking Act of 2021 was introduced by Representative Ed Perlmutter on March 18th, 2021. The SAFE Banking Act is a more surgical piece of legislation that deals with the following issues:
- Prohibits federal penalization of banks that provide services to cannabis-related organizations and businesses
- Proceeds from legitimate cannabis businesses are treated as proceeds from lawful activity as opposed to unlawful
- Depository institutions be allowed to provide loans to cannabis-related businesses without fear of retribution
- Federal banking agencies cannot terminate relations with customers unless they have a valid reason to do so which is unrelated to perceived reputation risks
This significant bill specifically targets the bias currently present in the federal banking system towards cannabis. It will make running a cannabis-related business far more financially viable and competitive. The bill is now in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Congress is heeding the calls for change by the American people, and its representatives are championing a large number of bills. These three are only a good sample of more currently under consideration. Time will tell if the 117th Congress will move forward on changing federal cannabis laws.
If you want to learn more about federal cannabis law and cannabis legalization or want help with business policies and strategies regarding cannabis, contact Navvee today for a consultation.