Well, it was another pandemic 4/20. While the smoke-outs and festivals were, for the most part, put on hold again this year, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to celebrate in cannabis. Here’s a roundup of some of the marijuana-related news that we’re looking forward to:
If it seems like the marijuana industry has been trying to get access to banking for forever, well, you’re not wrong.
Although states continue to legalize marijuana at a steady clip, federal law prevents banks from doing business with the cannabis industry.
The American Bankers Association has been lobbying in support of the SAFE Banking Act, legislation that was introduced last year.
“Banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law prohibiting it,” the group wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “Congress must act to resolve this conflict.”
This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow banks to open their doors to cannabis companies in legal states. The SAFE Banking Act passed the House in a 321-101 vote.
Despite a false start in 2019, there’s hope that the bill has a real chance of passing in the Senate with this new Congress. However, some Democrats favor bypassing piecemeal legislation and going for comprehensive change—nationwide cannabis legalization.
While there’s already legislation that would remove marijuana from the list of Controlled Substances—including the MORE and STATES Acts—Democrats are planning on unveiling legislation that is a “unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”
Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) are the lead authors of the legislation, which Democrats promise will be introduced any day now.
While we don’t have many details beyond the bill legalizing marijuana nationwide, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said that the legislation will address social equity, banking protections, and prioritization for small businesses.
Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use marijuana, making cannabis consumption legal for more than a third of Americans. As cannabis is legalized state-by-state, it’s a matter of “when” not “if” marijuana will be legalized in the United States.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. While states like California have had marijuana delivery since state legalization, it’s been a long time coming in Colorado. Although the state green-lit cannabis delivery in 2019, municipalities have been slow to opt-in.
However, that’s all about to change in Denver this summer. This week, the Denver City Council unanimously approved a bill to allow dispensaries to hire third-party vendors to deliver weed to Denverites. The bill also removes Denver’s 220-store recreational marijuana dispensary cap. Any new cannabis dispensaries or marijuana delivery services will have to meet the state’s social equity criteria.
Mayor Michael Hancock (D) is expected to sign the bill, and cannabis delivery in Denver could start by late summer.