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Efforts Made to Reform Marijuana Laws on a Federal Level

by Ella Young September 04, 2019

There has been much initiative taken this past year to reform marijuana laws on a federal level. Federal marijuana legislation introduced this year has had more of a narrow focus, including a bill which would help veterans access medical marijuana and spending bill amendments which would protect state-legal cannabis programs.

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would allow veterans to discuss the use of medical marijuana with a physician of the Department of Veterans Affairs as authorized by a State or Indian Tribe with a legal medical marijuana program, and to ultimately use, possess, or transport medical marijuana within their State or Indian Tribe borders. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the legislation at the beginning of this year and it has not yet been taken up for a vote, however many veterans are urging Congress to pick the issue up. shutterstock_358080905

A spending bill amendment sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) is also being considered by Congress. The amendment would bar the Department of Justice from spending money to prevent states and territories from implementing their own laws that authorize the possession, use, cultivation and sale of marijuana. The amendment was recently approved by the House of Representatives at the end of June 2019, and will now be considered by the Senate.

Another recently introduced measure, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, would open massive business opportunities for legal cannabis firms around the country, if it passes. Jerry Nadler, House Judiciary Committee Chairman and democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris introduced this legislation to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, while also repairing damages from the war on drugs. Not only would this act remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act to decriminalize it, but it would also allow states to write their own policies. This would also require marijuana convictions to be expunged or re-sentenced. On top of that, it would grant federal protections which would prohibit federal agencies from denting benefits to people using marijuana.

This bill would also prevent immigrants from being deported for cannabis related convictions, and establish a 5% cannabis tax to set up grants for minorities and other low-income communities. This tax revenue will set up three funds which will help people in communities that are socially and economically disadvantaged due to the war on drugs. This reinvestment would provide hands-on job training, legal aid and other social programs as their goal of the program would be to help develop an equitable cannabis licensing program.

Large industry groups including the American Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association increasingly are pushing for specific reforms, such as the SAFE Banking Act, which would enable financial institutions to serve state-lawful cannabis businesses without fear of federal prosecution. SAFE would offer services to cannabis-related businesses and their employees. The Act’s primary aim would be to bring cannabis related money into the economy allowing legitimate lending to those in need of it. Without this essential source of funding, most cannabis companies won’t be operating at their maximum capacity.

Confidence in the United States’ legal marijuana market will only continue to grow as Congress considers these federal legislative measures regarding marijuana law reform. There are currently 33 states with legal medical marijuana programs and 11 states that allow recreational marijuana use. We anticipate to see these numbers increase as more support in favor of marijuana programs is being garnered at a federal level. 

Interested in Starting a Marijuana Business in the United States?

To learn how you can start a legal marijuana business in the United States, download our Marijuana Business Opportunities Package, which includes the following:  

  • 2019 Marijuana Business Licensing Opportunities Listmjbusinessopportunitespackage_large
    Since each state has its own laws governing marijuana businesses, your first step will be identifying a state with an opportunity to apply for a marijuana business license. This document provides an overview of states with open or potential upcoming application processes. 
  • 2019 Marijuana Industry Update Timeline Spreadsheet
    This spreadsheet provides a timeline of marijuana industry updates for all 50 states so you can see how each one is progressing up to the week of purchase.
  • Marijuana Business Application Guide & Checklist
    Our Application Guide, about 60 pages, is designed as a detailed summary and checklist of all the action items you will need to complete prior to application submission for a marijuana business license.

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