Regulation

Lawmakers Shun State Cannabis Banking Reform

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has rejected the STATES Act, legislation that would allow states to regulate their own cannabis industries without federal intervention.

The Motley Fool reported that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) had on Dec. 17 reintroduced the STATES (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) Act, which is designed to protect the interests of states where marijuana use is legal. Right now, there are 32 states where medical marijuana is legal, and 10 that allow adult recreational-use pot.

The STATES Act would allow those in the cannabis industry to secure basic banking services so they won’t have to rely so heavily on cash. According to data from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the number of banking firms that provide services for marijuana firms has grown by 20 percent since the beginning of the year, bringing the current total to 375 banks and 111 credit unions.

And the American Bankers Association has stated that “we believe the time has come for Congress and the regulatory agencies to provide greater legal clarity to banks operating in states where cannabis has been legalized for medical or adult use.”

In hopes of having the STATES Act passed into law, Gardner reintroduced it as an amendment to the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that is expected to be passed into law. But the amendment still had to be approved by McConnell, who has previously rejected moves to reform federal cannabis laws — and this time proved to be no different.

The Act’s failure to get by McConnell follows comments made by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who said back in October that the Trump administration would take on cannabis regulation reform after the midterm elections.

“I have been talking to people inside the White House who know and inside the president’s entourage … I have talked to them at length. I have been reassured that the president intends on keeping his campaign promise,” he said.

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