Colorado Senator Cory Gardner is working diligently to pass cannabis banking reform this week that could have a major impact on how marijuana dispensaries do business. Today, Gardner proposed an amendment that would allow cannabis businesses to open up a bank account in legal states.
The STATES Act
If the amendment is passed, medical and recreational dispensaries would be protected from federal prosecution despite the fact that cannabis would still be classified as a Schedule I drug. The amendment entitled, The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States or the STATES Act, would essentially change the federal laws to mimic those created by states with legal marijuana.
Senator Gardner is now taking a new approach by attaching the amendment to a criminal justice reform bill known as the First Step Act that will be voted on before the beginning of 2019. Gardner stated that, “This is by far and away the best shot we’ve had so far. I can’t think of a more appropriate piece of legislation than this bill to try as an amendment to.”
Amending the First Step Act
Attaching the amendment to this bill will force the entire Senate to take a vote on it which could likely result in being approved. The criminal justice bill continues to have bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats and has seen steadfast support from President Trump and Mitch McConnell.
Although Gardner has not specifically notified the President of his proposed amendment he has high hopes for it getting passed. He remarked that, “the president supports this legislation, and in its purest form it is sentencing reform.” If he has the votes in the Senate and is able to get the cannabis banking reform amendment included, it would be transformative for the cannabis industry.
Banking Services for Dispensaries
Having access to commercial banking services without fearing the federal government appropriating their funds or shutting down their business. Cannabis banking reform would be ideal for cash heavy businesses like marijuana dispensaries, as they could actually use secure services to transport and deposit their revenue.
Senator Gardner encouraged his fellow Senators to vote yes on his proposed amendment to protect cannabis businesses today saying, “While we are debating criminal justice reform, we need to address the threat of prosecution by the federal government for people in Colorado that are operating legal businesses under state law. And it’s not just Colorado: 47 states now allow some form of legalized cannabis. This year Oklahoma, Utah, and Missouri changed their laws to join 30 other states that allow medical marijuana. Recent polls show around 65% of the country support legalization and 93% support medical marijuana. The people are speaking. The states are leading. It’s time for Congress to act to protect states’ rights. I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take up and pass this important amendment today.”