Author: anthonyj1977

Congress Poised to Act on Cannabis as Over 40% of Americans Live in Legal States

With New York, Virginia, and New Mexico joining the growing number of states that have voted to legalize cannabis for adult use, over 40% of Americans now reside in states that have swept Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history where it belongs. When you add the residents of the North Mariana Islands, Guam, and Washington, D.C., over 141 million of Americans of our roughly 328 million citizens now reside where legalization has passed, more than 43% of the total population. Another 15 states and the US Virgin Islands have decriminalized, so it isn’t surprising that 75% of voters either want Uncle Sam to legalize federally or want states to have the right to determine their own destiny on the subject. Only 25% want cannabis to be illegal everywhere. The Reefer Madness Prohibition Fan Club is getting smaller by the day. Now, finally, it appears that Congress will act on a legalization bill in soon. Senate President Chuck Schumer explained to Politico:

In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, “Well what changed?” Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states — Oregon and Colorado — wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen.

The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.

I think the American people started speaking with a clear message— more than two to one — that they want the law changed. When a state like South Dakota votes by referendum to legalize, you know something is out there.

I love the fact that Senator Schumer touts the experiences of Oregon and Colorado as why his thinking on cannabis evolved, especially when the predictions of the Reefer Madness Chicken Littles, that proclaimed the sky was gonna fall, didn’t come to fruition. Interestingly, Oregon’s own Ron Wyden has been named as a senator that Schumer will be working with when the Senate moves forward on legalization. With legalization now a mainstream political position with supermajority support, the Pete Ricketts of the world spouting nonsense about how Nebraskans will be killing their children if they allow medical marijuana, are going to get more desperate, so we must continue working hard to ensure that our representatives follow the will of the voters. We’re almost there. Step by step, state by state, freedom and common sense are on the march.

It’s always a great day to venture into Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, but if you’re into extracts, White Label Extracts are 50% every Saturday until May 1st. Come to beautiful Pendleton, stop into Kind Leaf, peruse from the best selection in the Great Northwest, and every purchase continues to show the powers that be in Washington, D.C., that it’s time to end the federal war on the cannabis community. As always, there are discounts for senior citizens, military veterans, and OMMP patients.

New York and New Mexico Created another Historic Week for the Cannabis Community

For good reason, New York officially legalizing cannabis dominated the headlines as not only did the state’s legislative body pass a bill ending prohibition, but the governor’s signature has already dried. Cannabis is legal in the Empire State and, in what should be a policy that all states should follow, old convictions are automatically expunged. Not to be outdone, however, was New Mexico, whose legislature also passed a legalization bill. While Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham hasn’t signed the bill yet, she made it clear that she will, stating that she considers the bill a breakthrough for the Land of Enchantment:

“This is a significant victory for New Mexico. Workers will benefit from the opportunity to build careers in this new economy. Entrepreneurs will benefit from the opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises. The state and local governments will benefit from the additional revenue. Consumers will benefit from the standardization and regulation that comes with a bona fide industry. And those who have been harmed by this country’s failed war on drugs, disproportionately communities of color, will benefit from our state’s smart, fair and equitable new approach to past low-level convictions.

“There were more than a few significant breakthroughs in the 60-day session. This is yet another one. As New Mexicans know, I have advocated and pushed and negotiated for this measure, and I am immensely proud and humbled to have seen it through. But that feeling is dwarfed by the gratitude I feel for the well-informed advocates, to the community members from all across the state – urban and rural, from every region– who have been committed to lobbying for this, to the leaders in the Legislature who helped us cross this major threshold.”

American Hemp Farmer author Doug Fine, who detailed moving his family off the grid in New Mexico in Farewell, My Subaru, texted me ecstatically during the vote and he had this to say on Facebook afterwards:

“Our cannabis law includes all the key baseline elements for a cannabis legalization bill, including home cultivation (a human right), cannabis record expungement, and strong plant count for local micro-businesses.Home cultivation (with no registration or paperwork) isn’t just fragrant. It’s an imperative. It must be part of any cannabis/hemp rule. Also, farmers, a piece of advice passed to me by Wendell Berry: Own your seeds. This time the farmers are in charge.”

The leading anti-cannabis legalization organization touted its work in New York, New Mexico, and Connecticut in its 2020 annual report. Well, now that over a third of Americans live in a legalized state, it will be interesting to see which state will be the next domino to fall. By all accounts, Connecticut could very well be next as we legalize freedom state by state. As more states join the growing number that have swept Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history, we are only adding to the number of federal representatives that will support the SAFE Banking Act and finally ending the federal war on the cannabis community. There’s more work to be done, but it’s been a good week for our movement, and it’s always good for the soul to celebrate victories.

It’s a good, no great, time to stop into Kind Leaf, the premier craft cannabis boutique in Eastern Oregon. Venture into the beautiful store in beautiful Pendleton and enjoy current deals that include 30% off of selected flower, edibles, extracts, and pre-rolls. Senior citizens, military veterans, and OMMP patients qualify for discounts as well.

‘Chopped 420’ Cooking Competition on Discovery Plus Has an Oregon Connection

As cannabis continues to move more mainstream (as you may have heard, over a third of our nation now resides in a legalized state since New York has joined us), we can expect to see cannabis represented more in our media. And that’s no joke. As we shatter more and more stereotypes, we should see less of the stupid and lazy stoner tropes and more depictions of how the cannabis community really is: just like everybody else. Enter, ‘Chopped 420’ a cooking competition show based upon the popular ‘Chopped” competition, but just with the fun twist of adding cannabis.

Deadline reports:

The Food Network is about to launch a true “high concept” television series.

Chopped 420 is a spin-off of the popular Chopped series, in which four chefs battle it out through appetizer, main course and dessert stages using picnic baskets filled with challenging foods. As the name of the new series suggests, it will explore cannabis cookery as a basket element.

The host will be comedian Ron Funches, and judges include chefs Esther Choi, Luke Reyes and Sam Talbot; drag performer and cannabis activist Laganja Estranja, and comedian Tacarra Williams. The show will start streaming on discovery+ on April 20, the annual holiday by those who indulge celebrating the best time of day to fire one up.

As The Oregonian reports, the show will have a strong Oregon connection:

Ron Funches has come a long way since he was a favorite stand-up comedian on Portland stages. In the years since he moved to Los Angeles, Funches has acted in TV series and movies, continued to do comedy, written, lent his voice to such projects as the “Trolls” movie franchise, created the “Gettin’ Better With Ron Funches” podcast, and more. Now, Funches is reaching new heights as host of “Chopped 420,” a cooking competition where chefs will be asked to include cannabis in their dishes.

I’ve got a chance to see Ron Funches comedy act in person and I think that he’s hilarious. The cannabis community should support this show and demand more like it. While you wait until April 20th, you can get your fix by watching Cooking on High on Netflix and urge the streaming service to produce another season.

If you need cannabis to spice up your dishes, or if you would prefer to purchase infused edibles from professionals, head to Kind Leaf in beautiful Pendleton for the best selection in the Great Northwest.

New York Legalizes Cannabis! Over a Third of Americans Now Live in Legal States.

The cannabis legalization movement just notched one of the biggest wins in the global fight for freedom and equality with New York officially becoming the 15th U.S. state to end prohibition with its borders. Cannabis is also legal in Washington, D.C., (which could become a state soon) and Virginia will be legal soon and New Mexico seems poised to join the growing number of states that are sweeping Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history where it belongs. The Empire State will be the second largest market in the United States and the third largest in the world, behind just California and Canada (although Mexico, with over 127 million people, may just leapfrog everyone soon). By adding its 19-plus million residents, over a third of Americans now live in states with legal cannabis. A financial, cultural, and media powerhouse, New York State brings an enormous amount of political capital to the legalization debate, which should help pass the SAFE Banking Act, and eventually, repeal federal cannabis prohibition in the coming years.

Adults can possess up to three ounces or 24 grams of cannabis concentrates under the new law, and as The New York Times reported, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) is a progressive legalization law:

New Yorkers are permitted to smoke cannabis in public wherever smoking tobacco is allowed, though localities and a new state agency could create regulations to more strictly control smoking cannabis in public. Smoking cannabis, however, is not permitted in schools, workplaces or inside a car.

Other changes will go into effect in the coming months when officials create the regulatory framework that will govern every aspect of a brand new, highly regulated market.

People, for example, will eventually be able to have cannabis delivered to their homes, consume cannabis products at lounge-like “consumption sites” and cultivate up to six plants at home for personal use. Dispensaries won’t open until more than a year from now, and localities could opt out of allowing such businesses.

This expansive law will also expunge old convictions, invest in communities disproportionately harmed by the Drug War. Kassandra Frederique, current Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who previously led the New York legalization campaign, issued the following statement:

“This day is certainly a long time coming. When we started working toward marijuana reform 11 years ago, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Because of the sheer extent of harm that had been inflicted on Black and Brown communities over the years, any marijuana reform that was brought forth had to be equally comprehensive to begin repairing the damage. 
 
And I can confidently say, the result–thanks to the tireless work of DPA, our legislative partners and other advocates–is something truly reimaginitive. We went from New York City being the marijuana arrest capital of the country to today New York State coming through as a beacon of hope, showing the rest of the country what comprehensive marijuana reform–centered in equity, justice and reinvestment–looks like.

A sincere thanks to DPA and everyone that has put in decades of work in New York. I know firsthand how hard and smart DPA works and will forever be thankful in their efforts assisting advocates legalize cannabis and eliminate harmful drug possession arrests here in Oregon. This victory in New York will resonate across our nation, through the halls of Congress, in the White House, and around the globe. Step by step, state by state, freedom and common sense are on the march and today is a good day.

Shattering Stereotypes: Cannabis Consumers Exercise As Much, If Not More

There have been many harmful stereotypes of cannabis consumers and connoisseurs perpetrated over the years. We’ve seen dumb stoners plastered all over media, as well as the lazy, sedentary stoners. As a child of DARE propaganda throughout my elementary, junior high, and high school years, I was kind of shocked when I got to college. I met cannabis users that were the smartest, most active people that I knew. People were getting great grades, working out, dominating at pickup basketball games, and utilizing cannabis. My mind was blown and I wondered what other Drug War lies I was being fed over the years. Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with former NBA All-Star and Sixth Man of the Year, the late Clifford Robinson, and he shared a ton of stories about world-class athletes using cannabis and how many were contacting him and thanking him for his activism. A recent study published in the medical journal Preventive Medicine has just demonstrated what many of us have known for years: that the caricature of the lazy, inactive stoner is a huge myth. From the authors of the study:

“Results show that, particularly for fixed-effects models, marijuana use is not significantly related to exercise, counter to conventional wisdom that marijuana users are less likely to be active. Indeed, the only significant estimates suggest a positive relationship, even among heavier users during the past 30 days. These findings are at odds with much of the existing literature, which generally shows a negative relationship between marijuana use and exercise. As additional states legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, perhaps its impact on exercise, one of the leading social determinants of health, is not necessarily a primary concern.”

The research published in Preventive Medicine backs up a previous study published in the Frontiers in Public Health Journal, which found:

“In summary, these data suggest that many cannabis users in states with legal cannabis access use in conjunction with exercise, and that most who do so believe it increases enjoyment of, recovery from, and to some extent the motivation to engage in exercise. As these factors positively correlate with exercise behavior, using cannabis with exercise may play a beneficial role in the health of cannabis users.”

In fairness, both of the studies I’ve cited in this blog note that more research is needed. However, among those that know cannabis consumers, I imagine that these findings match what you have found. Do you know anyone that plays disc golf, for instance? If you poll disc golfers, hikers, and other active folks in your life, there’s a decent chance that they utilize cannabis. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. Cannabis doesn’t hold anyone back from achieving the lifestyle or goals that you want to achieve. Now, getting arrested and convicted for cannabis, that’s the real harm. Keep shattering those stereotypes, cannabis community. Step by step, freedom and common sense are on the march.

The weather is warming up. When you are being active across beautiful, majestic Oregon, be sure to stop into Kind Leaf, the best craft cannabis boutique in the Great Northwest.

The Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board’s First Meeting is March 31st

While I found them extremely frustrating at times (okay, a lot of the time), it was an honor to participate on Oregon’s state advisory boards that made recommendations for both the medical dispensary and adult-use cannabis programs. It is a difficult task to educate state bureaucrats and policymakers when they lack experience or may even harbor ill-feelings toward the very subject at hand. On cannabis, the committees included prohibitionists who didn’t want cannabis legalized at all, making it hard to reach a consensus. And while legalization and regulation is certainly a better policy than prohibition, it’s hard not to lament how things could have been structured better, especially to benefit local small businesses and mom-and-pops. It’s a testament to a lot of hard work that a few craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf have managed to survive and thrive.

From my experience, I don’t envy the members of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board, who will help the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) develop rules for medical psilocybin mushrooms over the next two years. At least with cannabis, the OHA already had a registration system established for patients, caregivers, and growers. While not super supportive to say the least, OHA at least had some experience with cannabis since voters passed the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act back in 1998. Now, the state is starting from scratch with the first medical mushroom system in the nation, as The Portland Mercury reported:

That’s where the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board comes in. Made up of 17 Oregonians who are OHA officials, medical and legal professionals, academics, and advocates, the board is tasked with advising the OHA on how to regulate therapeutic psilocybin use. Its first meeting is Wednesday, March 31.

“The immediate first step [for the board] required by Measure 109 will be to compile all academic research on psilocybin therapy,” said Sam Chapman, Measure 109’s campaign manager. “This research will act as the foundation for the board’s work over the next two years.”

Chapman recently founded the Healing Advocacy Fund, a nonprofit that Chapman said aims to “ensure the measure’s implemented in ways that remain true to the measure that passed in November.” He said that on top of logistical concerns—regulating and labeling the actual substance, and setting safety standards for building codes—the main focus of both the advisory board and his organization will likely be figuring out how to make psilocybin therapy accessible for all Oregonians, “regardless of where they live or their ability to pay.”

If the establishment of the cannabis industry is any guide, one of the biggest challenges will be keeping licensing fees affordable and regulations limited so that smaller entities can compete and psilocybin can be available to patients battling poverty. While Oregon has the most affordable cannabis and cannabis products in the nation, and retailers like Kind Leaf provide discounts for registered OMMP patients, too many patients can be left behind, especially those on fixed incomes that can’t afford their complete medicine supply, especially if they need modalities such as full extract cannabis oil. If you are interested in keeping up on progress and helping keep psilocybin from being over regulated, so it can be accessible to the masses, I urge you to support the efforts of the Healing Advocacy Fund.

The OHA’s bulletin announcing the first meeting:

Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board meets March 31

What: A public meeting of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.

Agenda: Opening remarks, purpose of board, update on the OHA Psilocybin Services Program and board tasks and assignments.

When: Wednesday, March 31, 1—4 p.m. No public comment period available.

Where: Via Zoom meeting: https://www.zoomgov.com/j/16051729334, meeting ID 160 5172 9334.

Established by Ballot Measure 109 (2020), the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board makes recommendations to OHA on available scientific studies and research on the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating mental health conditions, and makes recommendations on the requirements, specifications and guidelines for providing psilocybin services in Oregon.

The Board will also develop a long-term strategic plan for ensuring that psilocybin services will become and remain a safe, accessible and affordable therapeutic option for all persons 21 years of age and older in this state for whom psilocybin may be appropriate; and monitor and study federal laws, regulations and policies regarding psilocybin.

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Bipartisan Congressional Pushback Against White House Firing Staffers for Cannabis

For good reason, many (all?) drug policy reformers were wary of Joe Biden as a presidential candidate as he had a long history of out-of-touch pro-Drug War policy positions throughout his political career, namely the disastrous 1994 Crime Bill that helped usher in an era of mass incarceration. However, Biden seemed to evolve on the campaign trail and, while not nearly good enough, his stance on cannabis was a step in the right direction from previous presidents. With 2/3 of the entire electorate supporting legalization and a supermajority of more than 80% of his own party on board, yes, there’s no reason that President Biden shouldn’t be in favor of legislation to repeal cannabis prohibition, but Reefer Madness can be difficult for some to fully shake. Then-candidate Joe Biden tweeted, “There is a lot of talk out there on where I stand when it comes to our marijuana laws,” including this graphic laying out his “evolved” positions:

Again, there’s really no excuse to oppose ending federal cannabis prohibition, but Biden’s positions do mark an improvement from previous presidents. As advocates, we must always strive towards our ultimate goal, but we can still make note of the positive baby steps along the way. While the Biden White House’s stance on cannabis for government employees is actually an improvement from previous administrations, a bipartisan group of legislators are rightfully demanding that he do better, highlighted by Oregon’s own Earl Blumenauer penning a letter to President Biden signed by 30 members of Congress that stated:

“While we work to deschedule cannabis legislatively, your administration should act within its power to stop legitimizing unfair cannabis laws. You have previously expressed your commitment to decriminalizing cannabis in acknowledgement that a cannabis conviction or even the stigma of cannabis use can ruin lives and prevent people from voting, gaining employment, and contributing to society. You can meet this moment and help end our failed punitive policy of cannabis prohibition.”

The lawmakers added, “The existing policies have been applied in inconsistent and unfair ways. Those in the upper ranks of your administration won’t face consequences for their cannabis use, and nor should they, but the same standard should be applied across the administration. Repercussions for cannabis use have always been unequal and those with the most power have always faced the fewest consequences. We ask that you don’t allow that pattern to continue within your administration.”

Republican David Joyce from Ohio, co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, sent his own letter to President Biden, stating:

I respectfully request that your administration discontinue punishment of staff for being honest about their prior cannabis use and reinstate otherwise qualified individuals to their posts. Moving forward, I encourage your administration to focus its efforts within cannabis on establishing an effective federal regulatory framework which recognizes that continued cannabis prohibition is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate. I stand ready and willing to work with you in this regard.

While it often seems like the cannabis community takes a step back each time we take a couple of steps forward, we are definitely making progress and even setbacks provide opportunities to build upon our success. Whether it’s President Biden’s out-of-touch staffer cannabis policy or the ridiculous Reefer Madness nonsense spouted by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, we are presented with opportunities to point out defects with current law and make important steps forward towards true freedom and equality.

New York Making Progress on Cannabis! Psilocybin Mushrooms Next?

As cannabis legalization for medical purposes and adult-use have advanced state by state across the nation, a familiar pattern has emerged: states with the initiative process are the earliest pioneers while those depending upon legislators lag behind and end up passing more restrictive laws. While New York may lag behind 15 other states (and Washington DC), the Empire State seems to be on the verge of passing a rather progressive legalization law, as The New York Times reports:

The deal would allow delivery of the drug and permit club-like lounges or “consumption sites” where marijuana, but not alcohol, could be consumed, according to details obtained by The New York Times. It would also allow a person to cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home, indoors or outdoors, for personal use.

If approved, the first sales of legal marijuana are likely more than a year away: Officials must first face the daunting task of writing the complex rules that will control a highly regulated market, from the regulation of wholesalers and dispensaries, to the allocation of cultivating and retail licenses, to the creation of new taxes and a five-member control board that would oversee the industry.

The deal was crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs. Millions of dollars in tax revenue from cannabis sales would be reinvested in minority communities each year, and a sizable portion of business licenses would be reserved for minority business owners.

If The Times is correct, New York’s legalization law will likely reverberate across the nation and even the world since the state is an international media and financial powerhouse. Other states, especially those sharing a border, will certainly be influenced to move towards ending prohibition more quickly, and even Oregon advocates, looking to pass the Cannabis Equity Act, a bill that includes licensed cannabis cafes and social equity provisions, could receive a boost as well.

Additionally, the race to be the next mayor of the Big Apple could add to the growing drug decriminalization movement, especially regarding psilocybin mushrooms, as New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang recently stated, “I’m for legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, and I’m open to the public policy impact of legalizing other substances.”

Regardless of whether Yang wins, a serious New York City mayoral candidate with a positive position on drug policy is great for our movement to end the failed and harmful Drug War. Of course, Oregon has helped move the national debate on psilocybin and other drugs, something that Beaver State voters can be proud of. As we have seen with cannabis, success begets success, and advancements across the nation, both at the state and local level, help advocates build upon victories as we chip away at the War on Drugs.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act

With over 100 robberies of Portland, Oregon-area dispensaries alone within the past year, it’s more evident than ever that the cannabis industry needs normal banking and financial services. One armed robbery lead to the tragic murder of an employee. Our nation shouldn’t let Reefer Madness prohibition lead to more unnecessary death and destruction anywhere, but especially in states that have legalized within their borders. Thankfully, a bipartisan group of legislators have introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to end the ridiculous two-tiered system of allowing state-regulated cannabis businesses to operate free from federal law enforcement intervention while still treating these companies as criminals unworthy of access to regular bank accounts. Allowing cannabis customers to use their debit and credit cards at dispensaries will end the cash-only policies that make these retailers prime targets of violent criminals. The SAFE Banking Act goes beyond cannabis, this is a public safety issue that demands immediate attention.

This common-sense proposal was introduced in the US House of Representatives last week and yesterday a Senate version was officially introduced. One of the lead sponsors is Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley who stated in a press release: “No one working in a store or behind a register should have to worry about experiencing a traumatic robbery at any moment. That means we can’t keep forcing legal cannabis businesses to operate entirely in cash—a nonsensical rule that is an open invitation to robbery and money laundering. Let’s make 2021 the year that we get this bill signed into law so we can ensure that all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees safe.”

Every reasonable person should want state-licensed cannabis businesses to conduct transactions the same as any other business. If the safety of dispensary employees doesn’t sway someone, then try to appeal to their sense of fairness towards non-cannabis businesses that have to deal with dispensaries. Utility companies and state tax collectors didn’t necessarily choose to legalize cannabis and dealing with cash complicates their work and, especially for those tasked with taking in record-breaking tax revenue, puts them in physical danger as well. And finally, even if you don’t support legalization, don’t you want the industry to pay their taxes? Cash-only transactions entices money laundering and tax evasion.

Cannabis legalization is here to stay. No state has repealed a cannabis legalization law. With supermajority support among voters, it doesn’t seem likely that any state will go back to prohibition. It’s time to face reality and save lives by passing the SAFE Banking Act. Please contact your legislators and spread the word and encourage friends to do the same.

Full press release from Senator Jeff Merkley:

Merkley, Daines Lead Senate Introduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure that Legal Cannabis Businesses Aren’t Shut Out of Critical Financial Services

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) today introduced the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would ensure that legal cannabis businesses have access to critical banking services.

Most state legal medicinal or recreational cannabis businesses are denied access to the banking system because banks fear they may be prosecuted under federal law given the ongoing federal restrictions on cannabis. The lack of access to bank accounts, credit cards, and checks have forced state legal cannabis businesses to operate in cash, opening the door to tax evasion and to a dangerous pattern of robberies, including one that resulted in the murder of a store clerk in Portland earlier this month.

Giving state legal cannabis businesses access to banking services would not only improve community safety, but also make it easier for Americans of color—who have long been disproportionately impacted by America’s racist ‘War on Drugs’ policies and generations of asset-stripping policies and practices—to access the capital necessary to participate in the merging cannabis industry.

“No one working in a store or behind a register should have to worry about experiencing a traumatic robbery at any moment,” said Merkley. “That means we can’t keep forcing legal cannabis businesses to operate entirely in cash—a nonsensical rule that is an open invitation to robbery and money laundering. Let’s make 2021 the year that we get this bill signed into law so we can ensure that all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees safe.”

“Montana businesses shouldn’t have to operate in all cash—they should have a safe way to conduct business,” Daines said. “My bipartisan bill will provide needed certainty for legal Montana cannabis businesses and give them the ability to freely use banks, credit unions and other financial institutions without the fear of punishment. This in turn will help increase public safety, reduce crime, support Montana small businesses, create jobs and boost local economies. A win-win for all.”

To address the safety concerns resulting from these state legal businesses being shut out of banking services, the SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from:

  • Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging a bank from providing financial services to a legitimate state-sanctioned and regulated cannabis business, or an associated business (such as an lawyer or landlord providing services to a legal cannabis business);
  • Terminating or limiting a bank’s federal deposit insurance solely because the bank is providing services to a state-sanctioned cannabis business or associated business;
  • Recommending or incentivizing a bank to halt or downgrade providing any kind of banking services to these businesses; or
  • Taking any action on a loan to an owner or operator of a cannabis-related business.

The bill also creates a safe harbor from criminal prosecution and liability and asset forfeiture for banks and their officers and employees who provide financial services to legitimate, state-sanctioned cannabis businesses, while maintaining banks’ right to choose not to offer those services. The bill also provides protections for hemp and hemp-derived CBD related businesses.

The bill would require banks to comply with current Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance, while at the same time allowing FinCEN guidance to be streamlined over time as states and the federal government adapt to legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis policies.

Momentum around the SAFE Banking Act reached new heights in the 116th Congress, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation, and included it in the HEROES Act.

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rand Paul (R-KY), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).

Last week, the legislation was introduced by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-07), Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), and Warren Davidson (R-OH-08) and over 100 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives. Full text of the legislation is available here.

Oregon House Bill 3112, the Cannabis Equity Act, Is a Great Step Forward

You know that the cannabis community, and our nation, has made great strides against Reefer Madness prohibition when the discussion changes from “whether to legalize” to “how to legalize.” I may prefer some proposals over others, but I tend to end up supporting any measure that improves upon the status quo and will keep more nonviolent people who aren’t hurting anyone else, from being arrested and jailed. In 2014, Oregon made great strides when it was the third state to vote to legalize, but the law wasn’t perfect. We made more progress in 2015 by further reducing criminal penalties and adding expungement provisions through legislation. One of the highlights of my activism career was reading about a man with “tears of joy” because he could finally clear his record of an old marijuana felony conviction. Still, there’s more work to be done in Oregon, and House Bill 3112, known as the Cannabis Equity Act, is an attempt at taking another great step forward in righting the wrongs of the racist and failed Drug War.

To each their own, but my personal favorite provision of the Cannabis Equity Act is the automatic expungement of old cannabis offenses. Our criminal justice system has too many injustices, and one of its major failings is the disparate treatment people get based upon how much money they have. Of course, people understand that having money allows you to hire top lawyers, or even a Dream Team of attorneys, but a lack of funds can detrimentally impact your criminal justice proceedings long after your trial. One example of that is the ability to clear your criminal record. As I previously mentioned, I loved reading about the man who had tears of joy after his expungement. However, too many don’t have the money to hire an attorney or pay the required court fees needed to expunge their records. There are great people and organizations that assist people with expungement, but you have to know about them and the events they host and be able to get there. Clearing your record of an offense shouldn’t depend upon how much money you have; House Bill 3112 fixes that injustice.

The Cannabis Equity Act has several other great provisions, such as reducing the fees on Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) patient cards and setting aside funds to invest in communities disproportionately impacted by over-policing and cannabis criminalization. Oregon has made great progress combatting Reefer Madness prohibition and the greater Drug War in recent years and HB 3112 is just another great step in the right direction. Oregonians, please contact the House Judiciary Committee and your own legislators and let them know that you support House Bill 3112 because it will improve the lives of thousands of people wrongly harmed by outdated marijuana laws. A sincere thanks to the Cannabis Equity PAC for working hard to pass this important legislation.

Kind Leaf supports efforts to improve our cannabis laws and always provides 15% off for OMMP patients.