Oregon, Illinois, California and other states with legal marijuana seek summit with Jeff Sessions. Recently, the federal government suspended the policy preventing the DEA from going after marijuana businesses in states where weed is legal. And infamously anti-marijuana Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a big part of the Trump administration’s agenda.
Who Asked to Meet With Jeff Sessions
Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and many are hopeful that more states will follow suit in 2018. As cannabis is still illegal federally, millions of people now live in places where marijuana policy is uncertain.
Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oregon and California’s state treasurers were the architects behind the letter to Jeff Session. In their letter released this Thursday, lawmakers asked for a meeting to discuss how the federal government’s crackdown on marijuana will affect businesses and banks.
“This is not just a blue state phenomenon but includes purple and red states in every corner of our country. A majority of Americans now live in states where they have decided to legalize cannabis,” lawmakers said in their letter to Sessions.
The letter goes on to explain that the lack of federal clarification “leaves the industry and financial institutions in the dark.” They propose that federal agents and state legislators meet to “reach a consensus” on marijuana regulation.
Businesses, such as the Maine Credit Union League, also signed the letter.
California Treasurer John Chiang Started The Conversation
Over a year ago, Treasurer Chiang reached out to Trump to discuss marijuana businesses and banking. Chiang hoped to get a head start on California’s 2018 recreational marijuana legalization date, but to no avail.
This year, Chiang teamed up with lawmakers from other states with marijuana legalization programs. Their newest petition asks the same question of federal lawmakers. Today, the issue with marijuana’s legal status is now on a much larger scale.
Chiang is also running for governor of California this year.
What The Federal Government Needs To Clarify
States with legal marijuana seek summit with Jeff Sessions to discuss the lack of banking available to the legal cannabis industry.
Marijuana remains a Schedule I substance according to federal law. Since banks are regulated on a federal level, and marijuana remains illegal federally, most banking institutions (with the exception of some select credit unions that do) won’t accept money made from cannabis. Another unfortunate consequence of the lack of banking available is that marijuana companies only have access to high interest cash loans.
Some marijuana businesses turn to cryptocurrency and armored cars, and others hope for municipality-run banks. No matter what the solution to marijuana’s banking problems, the industry needs clarification from the federal government.
The letter states that banks require “some comfort that they will not be prosecuted, or lose access to customer assets, simply for banking this industry.”
The Problem With The Marijuana Industry’s Lack of Banking Services
The inaccessibility of proper banking is stopping the marijuana industry from realizing its full financial potential.
About 40 percent of Colorado’s marijuana businesses do not have bank accounts. Considering the industry made 1.3 billion dollars in Colorado in 2016 alone, this is a huge amount of cash. Some pot entrepreneurs are able to open accounts with smaller banks. However, most larger financial institutions are staying away from the industry.
In short, weed businesses can’t get loans at reasonable rates or store their cash like other professions. This hurts the industry.
Final Hit: States With Legal Marijuana Seek Summit With Jeff Sessions
The legalization movement is hitting its stride and more Americans turning to legal cannabis.
For these reasons, lawmakers and businesses need of federal clarification on cannabis more than ever.
Though Trump has done nothing besides complicate the relationship between state and federal marijuana laws, it’s time the administration faced with the realities of legalization.