On Wednesday, Politico held a webinar with its staff of Cannabis reporters. The hour-long briefing focused on the current status of federal Cannabis legislation among other areas of Cannabis policy.
The following is of particular interest to RCRC member counties:
Federal Cannabis Banking Legislation
On banking legislation, the Senate version of the bill has been “slowly meandering through the Senate” with its status subject to change week-by-week. Despite this stalling, some Senators continue to express optimism in its revival, including one of the bill’s Senator sponsors Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon). Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) recently issued his guidance on what he would like changed in the legislation in order to gain his support. Of the multiple changes that Senator Crapo detailed, the one that has seen by far the most industry backlash has been his proposal to only permit banks to accept marijuana clients that sell products with a maximum two percent THC concentration. This two percent THC cap is significantly lower than most commercially viable cannabis products and is viewed as a non-starter for the currently legal cannabis industry. THC level caps in general are also a concern for the banking industry, which worries that the existence of any THC cap would burden banks with the responsibility of monitoring and policing their cannabis clients in order to avoid penalty or fines from regulators. Crapo has expressed some room for negotiation on his criticisms of the bill, but negotiations on the specifics of what he would compromise have yet to be discussed.
As for next steps for the legislative process, the lead Senators on the bill, Senator Merkley and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), are due to meet to discuss an immediate response to Senator Crapo’s demands, but have yet to do so because of the delay caused by the impeachment trial. However, the window for getting a final version of the bill through the Senate and signed by the President is becoming more and more narrow given the month and a half delay and the quickly-approaching deadline of the November elections.
Additional Marijuana Legislation
The MORE act, which is Representative Jerry Nadler’s (D-New York) bill to de-schedule marijuana and create a variety of social equity drug rehabilitation programs, is currently working its way through the eight committees of jurisdiction. It has passed the House Judiciary Committee and the House Small Business Committee waived its jurisdiction, meaning that as of now only six more remain. Further news is expected within the next two weeks on whether the remaining committees will hold a hearing or waive their jurisdiction.