Key bipartisan lawmakers say they are confident Congress will move on legislation designed to free cannabis businesses from the risk of breaking federal laws.
“I actually have some pretty good confidence that we can move forward on a solution this year,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) told Yahoo Finance about the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (“STATES Act”), a bill he co-sponsored with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and one of several bills introduced in Congress to address concerns that plant-touching transactions could run afoul of the Controlled Substances Act and U.S. banking regulations.
If passed, the STATES Act would prevent federal authorities from punishing state-compliant cannabis businesses that would otherwise face criminal prosecution for possessing and distributing marijuana, which remains designated as a schedule 1 narcotic.
“I think the consistent drumbeat of businesses and organizations and individuals going in to share their story with Chairman [Lindsey] Graham, and others, has really made a key difference in terms of how we’re going to actually pass legislation to fix this conflict,” Gardner said.
‘An invitation to money laundering’
A lead Republican sponsor for another bipartisan, and more narrowly-tailored bill that would protect banks from cannabis-related penalties, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (“SAFE Act”), Gardner reintroduced the measure in the Senate in April with Democratic co-sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
“This broader bill, I support it,” Merkley told Yahoo Finance. “Sen. Cory Gardner from Colorado has done a good job leading that effort. But sometimes the broader the bill gets, the less support it has. So we’re trying to find both the policy path and the political path forward.”