Tag: SAFE Banking Act

Financial Magazine Barron’s Provides Cannabis Industry Investment Advice

Like various investment sectors and hot trends (GameStop!!!), the cannabis industry has been a wild roller coaster ride for investors. Before there was the GameStop short squeeze saga, there was Tilray. Canadian cannabis companies, thanks to their nation’s wise decision to legalize first, were able to get a jump on the competition, but financial magazine Barron’s has provided tips on investing in the future American market as federal legalization seems inevitable in the United States:

Now, events are breaking in favor of the American operators. On April 19, the House of Representatives passed a bill by a 3-to-1 margin that would allow the pot industry to use the federally regulated banking system. Senate Democratic leaders support a matching bank bill. Meanwhile, Covid-19 has left state governments desperate for tax revenue. New York, Virginia, and New Mexico recently joined the 13 states that have allowed recreational sales to adults. Over time, recreational sales will probably come to the 20 states that now allow sale by prescription. That could spur the remaining state holdouts to fall in line, if federal legalization doesn’t happen first. So, sales can’t help but grow.

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While the stocks of most Canadian producers have fallen sharply in the past two years, the shares of U.S. operators have gained. Upside remains. The market caps of the eight biggest U.S. cannabis companies add up to $33 billion. That’s a reasonable four times the $7.5 billion in aggregate sales that analysts forecast for next year, and 10 times the expected cash flows. The overall U.S. market is several times larger than the leading companies, and market researcher BDS Analytics foresees sales topping $40 billion by 2026. The illicit market is perhaps twice that size. If the history of the alcoholic-beverage industry is any guide, customers will eventually come over to the legal market.

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What makes less sense is the lopsided attention that investors pay to Canadian pot producers, who may be listed in the U.S. but mainly have Canada’s tiny market for their sales. The real action is right under their nose.

As Barron’s noted, the lack of banking access and the 280E IRS tax code have been heavy burdens on the cannabis industry, even more so on small, local craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf, than on wealthy multi-state actors and international corporations. With any investment, it’s buyer beware, but the cannabis industry is even more volatile as the whims of politicians and voters can change, but it certainly looks like the future is bright. While the time could be now to invest, it’s definitely a good time to start doing your homework if investing in domestic U.S. companies intrigues you.

Whether you choose to invest in cannabis stocks or not, it’s always a good time to invest in your own happiness and the local economy by supporting Kind Leaf in beautiful Pendleton. At Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, you get to choose from the best selection in the Great Northwest and you know that your hard-earned dollars stay in the Beaver State to promote the local economy and fund important services, including much-needed drug treatment and recovery programs. This week’s specials, while supplies last, include 30% off Charvak, Zurple Punch and Platinum Cookies flower. For extracts, there’s 30% off Self Made Shatter, East Fork Cultivar PAX Pod Cherry Wine. If edibles are more your speed, then you can enjoy 30% off Mr. Moxey’s Ginger 5:1 Mints, Golden Fruit Chew Blast Lemon Ginger, Magic Soda, and Muru Cannamixer.

Fivethirtyeight: Americans Want to Legalize Cannabis, Why Won’t Uncle Sam Listen?

Poll after poll, electoral victory after electoral victory, and cultural advancement after advancement, it’s clear that a supermajority of Americans want to end cannabis prohibition. It’s been maddening for many longtime drug policy reformers that elected officials across the nation and in Washington, DC, haven’t followed the will of the voters. Public opinion has gotten to such a high watermark that mainstream political observers have taken notice, including Fivethirtyeight.com which takes on why the federal government won’t legalize marijuana when voters from across the political spectrum want to:

“For starters, not all Senate Democrats back Schumer’s plan, and Senate Republicans have yet to show any support for legalization. Additionally, while legalizing marijuana is popular, it isn’t a top priority for many voters. That may be, in part, due to the success of legalization efforts at the state level. More than one in three Americans live in states where marijuana is already legal for recreational use, and a sizable majority live in states where marijuana is legal for medical use. For those who already have access to the drug, it may not matter whether it’s their state government or the federal government making that allowance. Finally, as my colleague Perry Bacon Jr. pointed out earlier this year, electoral politics are increasingly disconnected from policy, meaning that despite the popularity of marijuana legalization, there may simply not be a ton of electoral benefit for Biden for taking up the issue.

“Still, if the polling is any indication, legalizing marijuana is hugely popular, and Biden may yet change his mind, depending on how the politics of the bill play out. And if he does, he may even get some brownie points from Republican voters who support legalization. But if things start to get politically messy, Biden may not have a lot to lose by passing on championing this particular issue.”

With nonpartisan popular support, the US House passing legalization and the SAFE Banking Act, and the Senate Majority Leader supporting legalization, we are on the precipice of ending federal prohibition. However, the corporate interests and prison-industrial complex that have benefited from Reefer Madness policies, won’t give up power easily. We’re gonna have to fight even harder to secure the votes in the Senate and a presidential signature. With the truth and the people on our side, freedom and equality for the cannabis community is within reach. Let’s keep it up.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Hopes to End Cannabis Prohibition by 4/20/22

Hope everyone had a good holiday celebration. There were certainly plenty of reasons for the cannabis community to celebrate yesterday and to continue celebrating as we have been making tremendous progress in our fight for freedom, all across the nation and the globe. It’s a relatively slow and steady political and cultural battle, but it’s easy to see that the momentum is on our side as even our opponents have started to concede ground, claiming that they now support decriminalization.

It’s a real untenable situation for Reefer Madness prohibitionists who find themselves on the fringe, as less than 10% of Americans want cannabis to remain completely illegal. In a huge sign of our progress, the SAFE Banking Act passed the House on Monday by a whopping 321-101 margin. And then on the cannabis community’s sacred day, New York Senator Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor on 4/20 to announce his hope that federal prohibition has been swept into the dustbin of history where it belongs by 4/20/22, as CNBC reported:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday reiterated his call to legalize marijuana at the federal level, saying he hopes to see an end to the drug’s prohibition by next year’s 4/20.

“Hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday, 4/20, rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive overcriminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way,” Schumer said on the floor of the upper chamber.

Schumer said the nation’s war on drugs has “too often been a war on people, particularly people of color.” “I believe the time has come to end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country, and I’m working with Sens. Booker and Wyden on legislation to do just that,” he said.

There’s never been a better time to be a drug policy reform activist and we are so close to the promised land. It was heartening to see all of my federal representatives, Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley all make 4/20 statements about working to legalize cannabis for all adults. It’s been a rather remarkable ride for the cannabis community, we just need to continue working hard and smart, step by step, state by state. It helps to have the truth on our side because eventually, it shall set us all free.

There are always great deals at Kind Leaf to continue celebrating the cannabis community and how far we’ve come. You can conveniently use Leafly Pick-Up or just come on into Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique at 1733 SW Court Ave. in beautiful Pendleton. Discounts available for senior citizens, military veterans, and OMMP patients.

The American Bankers Association Urges Congress to Pass the SAFE Banking Act

The bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act) of 2021 is expected to get a vote today in the United States House of Representatives, a big development for the cannabis industry and the first step towards finally implementing a sensible federal cannabis policy. State-regulated cannabis businesses are severely hindered from a lack of access to bank accounts and other normal financial services. The extra burden especially hurts small businesses, complicates business relations with vendors, and creates a safety risk for staff, customers, and the local neighborhood. The cannabis industry got a big boost today, with the American Bankers Association urging Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act, writing:

Since 1996, voters across the country have determined that it is appropriate to allow their citizens to use cannabis for medical purposes and, since 2012, for adult use. Currently, 36 states have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use and that number continues to grow. Nevertheless, current federal law prevents banks from safely banking cannabis businesses, as well as the ancillary businesses that provide them with goods and services.

As a result, a majority of states are struggling to address the significant challenges to public safety, as well as regulatory and tax compliance that go hand-in-hand with businesses forced to operate in an all-cash environment. Providing a mechanism for the cannabis industry to access the banking system would help those communities reduce cash-motivated crimes, increase the efficiency of tax collections, and improve the financial transparency of the cannabis industry. Since bank accounts are monitored in accordance with existing anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act requirements, bringing cannabis-related legitimate businesses into the mainstream banking sector would also help law enforcement to identify suspicious transactions – an opportunity that is not available in an all-cash environment.

The ABA was joined by 51 state banking associations, who in a separate letter penned, noting that the “SAFE Banking Act is a banking-specific bipartisan solution that would address the reality of the current marketplace.” No matter anyone’s stance on cannabis legalization, and the ABA noted that they are neutral on the issue, they should support the SAFE Banking Act. Denying cannabis companies access to bank accounts leads unnecessary complications and danger for our local communities. Hopefully the House passes the common-sense legislation overwhelmingly and the Senate follows suit.

UPDATE: The SAFE Banking Act passed!!!

Vox Thinks That Cannabis Legalization Has Already Won. Yes, but Let’s Not Let Up.

Cannabis legalization is on a great winning streak. Over 43% of our nation now lives in a state that has ended prohibition and there has never been a better time to be a drug policy law reformer. The success that the cannabis community has had politically and culturally is nothing short of remarkable. I had an activist yesterday tell me that they are amazed that I have been able to stay sane after two decades in this fight, let alone those that have two decades on me. I countered that I celebrate all of our victories along the way and while it can be frustrating, I take solace in knowing that we have come so far since 1996, the year when California became the first state to legalize medicinal cannabis. All of our success has finally moved into the halls of Congress and ending Uncle Sam’s Reefer Madness seems inevitable and we’re gonna see more articles like Vox’s declaring that “Marijuana legalization has won” stating:

At this point, the question of nationwide marijuana legalization is more a matter of when, not if. At least two-thirds of the American public support the change, based on various public opinion surveys in recent years. Of the 15 states where marijuana legalization has been on the ballot since 2012, it was approved in 13 — including Republican-dominated Alaska, Montana, and South Dakota (although South Dakota’s measure is currently held up in the courts). In the 2020 election, the legalization initiative in swing state Arizona got nearly 300,000 more votes than either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

Legalization has also created a big new industry in very populous states, including California and (soon) New York, and that industry is going to push to continue expanding. One of the US’s neighbors, Canada, has already legalized pot, and the other, Mexico, is likely to legalize it soon, creating an international market that would love to tap into US consumers.

The walls are closing in on this issue for legalization opponents — and quickly.

Of course, what German Lopez writes in Vox is true, but there is a big “but” to consider. Legalization has won, BUT there is still much work to be done. Legalization is inevitable, BUT only because advocates have laid the foundation for decades and are continuing to do the hard work of winning elections, either by taking the case directly to the voters or winning over legislators and governors. The cannabis community has won the cultural battle because we have been right all along, just as those pioneering activists like Oregon’s Elvy Musikka and those no longer with us, like Jack Herer and Dennis Peron, were right about the ills of prohibition all along. However, we can’t let up.

Many old-school activists thought that ending the war on cannabis was inevitable during the 1970s when states first started decriminalizing personal amounts, but then there was the “Just Say No” expansion of the Drug War during the 1980s and into the 90s. This isn’t the time to spike the football, count all of our chickens, or insert-phrase-that-means-celebrate-prematurely, just yet. We still need to pass the SAFE Banking Act, free prisoners, expunge criminal records, implement equitable regulations, AND end prohibition all across the land. Step by step, state by state, we’re making it happen, but let’s continue to the work and not let the headlines get to our heads just yet.

Minnesota, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island Could All Legalize Cannabis This Year

This year has already been a historic one for the cannabis community with New York, Virginia, and New Mexico passing bills to end prohibition. A decade ago, there were no states that had legalized and now over 40% of our nation lives in a state that has voted to end prohibition. From an industry standpoint, New York is a huge get as the state will become one of the biggest markets in the world and its status as a financial and media hub should help create the momentum to pass the SAFE Banking Act to finally allow regulated cannabis businesses to access normal financial services. The criminal justice and social equity reforms passed in the Empire State should also resonate and help convince states to legalize right, even those that were earlier pioneers. Culturally, Virginia being the first state in the former Confederacy to sweep Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history is a landmark development that will bring more key support. New Mexico’s biggest impact outside of its border could be its influence on Texas as voters, legislators, and policymakers will start to notice that they are missing out on jobs and revenue for no reason as residents of the Lonestar State take advantage of legal stores in the Land of Enchantment.

More history could still be made as Minnesota, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island still have the potential to join the growing number of states that have legalized more freedom, jobs, and revenue, as Marijuana Moment reported:

From Delaware to Minnesota, lawmakers are still working to end prohibition by the year’s end. While there’s no guarantee that they’ll be successful, there’s growing momentum for legalization with top lawmakers and governors on board, and each state that enacts the policy change adds pressure on those around them to follow suit.

If two more states get legal marijuana bills signed this session, 2021 would set a record for the highest number of new legalization laws enacted in a single year. And if just one more state were to adopt legalization this session, 2021 would tie 2016 and 2020 as a year with the most number of states to legalize cannabis—quite remarkable given that no states are putting the issue directly to voters on the ballot this year.

Marijuana Moment provides a great breakdown of where the bills currently stand in these states. In addition to these four northern states, it should be noted that Louisiana could be the next southern state to join Virginia. A legalization bill was introduced last week and 2/3 of voters now support ending prohibition. The work of moving state by state is a ton of work, forged by advocates over years, if not decades, but it’s necessary to end harmful arrests and convictions while creating much needed jobs and revenue. Sooner, rather than later, this gains at the state level will create a tipping point to where Congress and the White House will no longer be able to deny the will of the voters and we can finally cure Uncle Sam’s Reefer Madness once and for all.

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.

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.

Bipartisan Cannabis SAFE Banking Act Introduced Again in the U.S. House

It is honestly hard to understate how important it is that Congress pass the SAFE Banking Act to finally allow cannabis businesses access to regular banking and financial services. While there are some banks that do business with state-regulated cannabis companies, that simply isn’t good enough. These banks charge significant fees for this privilege and the businesses must still remain cash-only as no credit or debit cards can be utilized at dispensaries. The bureaucratic headaches aren’t just limited to the cannabis industry either as everyone the industry does business with, from their landlords to the state and federal agencies collecting record-breaking tax revenue, are then forced to accept cash as well. While the lack of financial services is a huge impediment to doing business, especially for locally-owned craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf, the biggest issue is the current threat to public safety. The more than 100 robberies in the Portland-area over the past year alone are troubling, but thieves are taking advantage all across the nation. Tragically, one Portland budtender was murdered in an armed robbery and more needless suffering will occur if the cannabis industry is forced to be cash-only. Thankfully, as Marijuana Moment reported, the SAFE Banking Act has been reintroduced in the United States House by Representative Ed Perlmutter with bipartisan support:

The bill as introduced has 102 initial cosponsors, with Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Warren Davidson (R-OH) taking the lead alongside Perlmutter. By the end of the 116th Congress, the prior version of the bill garnered 206 cosponsors. The current bill includes support from 13 Republicans.

A new companion Senate version of the bill is expected to be filed next week.

The SAFE Banking Act would ensure that financial institutions could take on cannabis business clients without facing federal penalties. Fear of sanctions has kept many banks and credit unions from working with the industry, forcing marijuana firms to operate on a cash basis that makes them targets of crime and creates complications for financial regulators.

The bill has been slightly revised this session to expand banking protections to explicitly include hemp and CBD businesses, and some technical changes were made to clarify language around insurance and safe harbor provisions. A separate bill to address insurance issues in the cannabis market was also introduced in the Senate on Thursday.

With a supermajority of voters understanding that it’s time to end cannabis prohibition altogether, passing the SAFE Banking Act should be a no-brainer. I certainly expect the bill to pass the House, but the real question will be if the common-sense banking legislation will survive the 50-50 Senate and its rather archaic filibuster rules. It’s imperative to spread the word and help everyone understand how important this policy change is. This goes beyond cannabis. Even if you don’t support legalization, you should support this bill. This is a public safety issue. If you don’t support the SAFE Banking Act, then you don’t support public safety. Step by step, let’s save and improve lives and the SAFE Banking Act is one crucial step towards ending the failed, racist, and harmful war on cannabis. Let’s get to work. Contact your elected officials and get them on board.

With Mexico Moving to Legalize Cannabis, the U.S. Is in Danger of Getting Left Behind

Our entire lives we have been taught about American exceptionalism. It is ingrained in us with our nation’s origin story about how the great George Washington, who allegedly wouldn’t lie about chopping down a cherry tree, led a ragtag group of freedom fighters to win independence from the mighty British Empire. Yes, we often ignore or downplay our faults and mistakes along the way, but Americans love to tout our great nation as the greatest of all-time, and the land of the free and the home of the brave does have some great accomplishments, such as winning independence from England and being the birthplace of Rock and Roll, for starters. We are supposed to be the leaders of the free world, so the United States getting left behind by our North American neighbors on cannabis legalization is just embarrassing, and as the Dude said, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

First, our neighbor to the north ended cannabis prohibition as Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party was swept into power with legalization as a foundation of its political platform in 2018. After years of Vancouver, British Columbia, helping lead the way, drug policy reformers cheered on our Canadian counterparts, just knowing the their success would soon help our political battle here as well. While we are proud of the work of Canadian advocates, it soon became distressing to see big multinational corporations headquartered in Canada use their newfound freedom to buy up smaller American cannabis businesses who have been too stifled by Uncle Sam’s probationary policies to compete.

Now, as Politico reported our neighbor to the south, is on the verge of ending cannabis prohibition:

Mexico is on the verge of creating the world’s largest legal marijuana market, a move that could pressure President Joe Biden to embrace weed, too.

Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies passed landmark legislation Thursday morning, ahead of a April 30 deadline set by the country’s Supreme Court to legalize recreational sales. The Senate is expected to back the billin the coming days.

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose party strongly backs the proposal, is expected to sign the bill, sandwiching the U.S. between the world’s two biggest legal marijuana markets.

While I am gland the Mexico is moving towards legalization and am hopeful that their progress will help spur Congress to act quickly, I am fearful that this will open up yet another wave of corporate takeovers. The 280E IRS tax code and lack of banking and financial services are crippling American companies while corporations will now be able to utilize Mexico’s more favorable laws to purchase companies here in the U.S., just as companies have done in Canada. Now that American entrepreneurs will face major competitors from both sides of our border, on an uncompetitive playing field, it’s even more imperative that Congress pass legalization as soon as possible. We can start with the SAFE Banking Act and move forward from there, but time is of the essence.