“The votes are there.”
That’s what Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) told Bloomberg today in relation to a semi-legalization of marijuana bill.
Of course, he’s a politician, so we hold out for concrete proof of action.
But he does bring up a great point that can – and will when the time is right – snowball into a big step forward for legalization of marijuana.
The timing could be good too.
The Senate is setting up to have a big fight and, although expectations are low, the marijuana banking regulations could get thrown into it all.
It all comes down to the FIRST STEP (Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act) Act.
This is major criminal justice reform legislation making its way through the Senate.
As of today, the odds of it passing are more likely than not.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has said he will not stand in its way and it will get a vote.
But that’s just the starting point.
Senator Gardner has stated his intention to offer an amendment to the FIRST STEP Act.
This amendment would be a semi-legalization of marijuana bill called the STATES Act.
The STATES Act would essentially turn over the legalization decision to individual states and authorize banks to deal with marijuana and marijuana-related businesses.
This would be a big step and there may a chance to get it through.
Although it wouldn’t completely legalize marijuana (marijuana would still be subject to the Controlled Substances Act), this would open some of the troubling parts of the marijuana industry which have been holding it back.
The marijuana industry has a major problem which may finally be getting fixed and if you’re a marijuana investor, it could spark the biggest run up yet.
The problem is banking.
It is illegal for any bank to deal with a marijuana or marijuana-related business.
Most banks and financial institutions have followed the law and turned down marijuana business.
However, FinCEN reports there are 486 financial institutions in the United Sates currently serving marijuana-related businesses in violation of federal law.
The STATES Act, if included with the FIRST STEP Act, would change all that.
Whether it is going to happen is an open question.
McConnell has advanced the legalization of hemp through the Farm Bill, but the STATES Act passage is nothing close to a done deal – or even a probable deal – yet.
This is the one to watch though because if it passes, one of the greatest impediments to the marijuana industry’s growth will be removed.