An influential organization representing lawmakers all over the United States is calling for the federal government to eliminate the cannabis plant from the confines of the Controlled Substances Act.
In a resolution published on Monday, a group known as the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) went to the mat for cannabis reform, pushing for marijuana to be removed from its Schedule I classification. The goal is to give the cannabis industry easier access to banking solutions, while improving public safety by making it more difficult for criminal organizations to target dispensaries and other all-cash businesses.
“The Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove cannabis from scheduling, thus enabling financial institutions the ability to provide banking services to cannabis related businesses,” the resolution reads.
While this stance is a solid step forward for nationwide reform, it does not guarantee that changes are on the horizon.
In fact, the group’s latest position marks the third time the organization has attempted to persuade the federal government to revise the DEA’s Controlled Substance Act in such a way that allows “states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference.”
But this does not mean that the organization is in total support of one kind of marijuana legalization. The NCLS “acknowledges that each of its members will have differing and sometimes conflicting views of cannabis and how to regulate it,” the resolution continues.
The primary objective, however, is to give each state the freedom to develop their own marijuana policies without worrying about trouble at the hands of federal drug enforcement.
The resolution goes on to say that “in allowing each state to craft its own regulations, we may increase transparency, public safety and economic development where it is wanted.”
Drug reform advocates are enthusiastic about the latest call to free the leaf from its longtime label as a dangerous drug.
“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
“Legitimate, taxpaying marijuana businesses should not have to face the difficulties of operating on a cash-only basis,” she continued. “Allowing banks to offer them financial services will be good for the industry and benefit public safety. Even more so, states should not have to worry about the federal government interfering with their marijuana policy choices.”
There are several bills currently lingering in Congress right now aimed at making this reform a reality, including one introduced last week by Senator Cory Booker. But none of them have the kind of support it is going to take to have a fighting chance on Capitol Hill.