As we previously reported, on October 6, President Biden took executive action and announced that he would issue pardons for all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana, and urged state governors to do the same. As part of his executive action, Biden also directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Attorney General to “initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” which is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and LSD.
Many observers think that this executive action could usher in cannabis banking reforms. While some have noted that if cannabis is actually de-scheduled, banks and financial institutions will feel more comfortable banking with cannabis and cannabis-related companies, it seems more likely that Biden’s pardon announcement may push Congress to finally pass some version of the SAFE Banking Act.
After Biden’s announcement, Sen. Cory Booker (D, N.J.) said he was hopeful that Congress would pass federal legislation in the lame-duck session after the November election. On that front, Booker alluded to “bipartisan movement” due to “problems in the banking industry” that many think refers to a version of “SAFE Banking Plus” or “SAFE Plus” that we previously reported senators were discussing.
The SAFE Banking Act – which has passed the House of Representatives seven times in recent years but has not been taken up in the Senate – would allow cannabis businesses to access the federal banking system and service providers to the cannabis industry such as attorneys, accountants, bankers and landlords would be permitted to accept payment from cannabis businesses without the risk of violating federal law.
“SAFE Plus” would add equity provisions to the SAFE Banking Act, ensuring equitable access to financial services for minority-owned cannabis businesses, requiring financial institutions to prove compliance with anti-discrimination laws, as well as other reforms like expungements, veterans medical cannabis access and more.
This week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors – which represents the 1,400 U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 or more – passed a resolution urging Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, the MORE Act and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which has yet to be formally introduced.
The House of Representatives has passed both the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act and the MORE Act at least six times in recent years but the Senate has yet to take these bills to a vote. Per the resolution, the SAFE Banking Act would “provide financial security for cannabis dispensaries and related companies and enhance public safety” while the MORE Act and/or the CAOA would “legaliz[e] the medicinal use of cannabis and the adult use of recreational cannabis.” Continue reading “U.S. Mayors Call on Congress to Pass Cannabis Reform”
As an alliance partner of Arcview, Duane Morris attorneys are participating in an exciting lineup of #ArcviewApril events—sharing insights about the cannabis industry during National Cannabis Awareness Month. More information: http://arcviewapril.com/
Imagine for a moment that you are arrested for alcohol possession back when alcohol was illegal. Then, imagine you served a sentence in prison for that possession, perhaps an inordinately severe incarceration sentence. Then imagine that you get out of prison and find it almost impossible to find a job, find housing or obtain a loan due to your criminal record. Then imagine, to make things worse, that alcohol is now legal, yet you are still saddled with this criminal history which leaves you no room for social advancement.
Imagine also that in spite of your lack of chances to obtain a job, that the very illegality you were arrested for not only becomes legal through legislation, but also fosters a burgeoning industry in the prohibited substance, primarily by nondiverse corporate entities and persons. Sounds a little bit like a nightmare, but that is exactly the scenario that is developing around cannabis and medical cannabis across the country.
On June 17, 2019, the New York Legislative session adjourned without passing a bill that would have legalized adult use cannabis in the state. The sponsor of the leading bill in the assembly and Manhattan Democratic Senator, Liz Krueger, announced that there was not sufficient time to gain the support necessary for passage of a bill. Although there appears to be broad popular support for legalization of marijuana in New York, a number of “safety” issues arose, particularly among suburban constituencies relating to concerns such as operation of motor vehicles under the influence of marijuana. Sentiment in suburban areas caused lawmakers from those districts to withhold the support needed, particularly in the state senate. In addition, many blamed the failure on Governor’s Cuomo’s reluctance to give the measure full support. Although the governor had endorsed adult use legalization earlier in the session, and had attempted to include it within the budget bill passed at the end of March, at the critical time before adjournment he appeared to take a hands‑off approach, becoming oddly passive, a pose this activist governor rarely adopts. Continue reading “Effort to Legalize Adult Use of Marijuana Fails in New York State”
The first public hearing on New Hampshire House Bill 481, which would legalize the adult use of cannabis in the state, is scheduled for February 5, 2019. The bill outlines how New Hampshire would regulate cannabis products,including recreational “adult use” products, the licensing and regulation of sales establishments, and the taxation scheme.
Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont all have legalized the “adult use” of cannabis, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in northern New England that has yet to do so.New Hampshire’s economy is very integrated into the New England and Metro Boston economies and serves as a valuable new market for the cannabis industry.
The February 5 public hearing will begin at 1:00 p.m. at Representatives Hall in the State House before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. The committee will amend the bill the following day, vote on the bill on Thursday, February 7, and send the bill to the floor of the New Hampshire House for its consideration in February.
Although Governor Christopher T. Sununu has said he will veto the bill, the bill is receiving bipartisan support and is expected to easily pass the House and Senate in the coming weeks, setting the stage for a potential veto override. It is also anticipated that the legislative effort will take a couple of months. Duane Morris will continue to follow these developments.