A key Senate committee passed a bill today allowing the nation’s capital to establish regulated marijuana stores and let banks provide financial services to state-legalized marijuana dispensaries.
“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used, with respect to a State where marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal purposes, to prohibit or penalise a financial institution exclusively because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, producer, or a person that participates in any business or organised activity that involves handling marijuana or marijuana products; and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State or a unit of local government”, according to the Senate amendment passed by the committee. “It’s time to make them the law of the land”. Jeff Merkley, who offered the amendment. “This is an invitation to robberies, money laundering, and organized crime”. Dianne Feinstein of California was the only panel Democrat to oppose it.
Three Republicans on the Senate panel – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Steve Daines of Montana – voted for the amendment. “Marijuana businesses in Colorado alone are on pace for almost $1 billion dollars in revenue this year”.
Dozens of states have reformed their drug sentencing laws in recent years and there’s now a bipartisan and strong consensus that Congress should reform federal sentencing laws. “It’s nearly as if some federal officials want to see marijuana businesses get robbed”.
Currently, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services like any other business. Fortunately, a spending bill advanced by the Senate Appropriations Committee today eliminates the congressional ban, allowing D.C. policymakers to tax and regulate marijuana.
The Fiscal Year 2016 budget that the White House submitted to Congress earlier this year also does not contain the D.C. prohibition.
“This amendment very clearly states that it applies to medical marijuana and recreational marijuana”, she said. The latter two of those amendments were also approved by the full House of Representatives.
“At this point, it’s probably only a question of when, not if, the failed war on drugs will come to an end”, said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement.