Many of the states that have chosen to legalize marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use have stated that they would like to have a summit in the near future with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. With the recent news that the federal government has suspended the policy that prevents the DEA from going after marijuana businesses throughout the country, Sessions is at the head of the fight against cannabis.
Attorney General Sessions has been a notorious proponent of the use of legal cannabis and has stated that he would like to continue the war on drugs started back in the Reagen era. Because of the long fight for legalization throughout the country, which has ended in many states choosing to legalize the plant on an individual level, these states would like to have a meeting with one of the main individuals standing in the way.
Currently, marijuana is legalized in 29 states, and nine of those are recreational use with the others being medicinal only. A recent letter sent to Sessions by the states of Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California has stated that they would like to have a meeting to discuss how the federal crackdown on pot has affected the growth of the various industries. Part of the letter stated that “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.” The letter continues to state that the lack of federal interest in the issue has left industries and financial institutions in the dark. Because of the actions of the federal government, the current state of marijuana is extremely confusing. While certain states have the legal framework to allow the sale of the plant, the federal government could at any time come in and shut the businesses down.
The current state of cannabis from a federal standpoint is that it is a Schedule I narcotic. This means that the government believes that there is no medicinal potential for the plant and that it has a high rate of addiction. Both of these claims have been refuted around the world by a wide variety of scientific studies, thus continuing the question of why it is outlawed to this extreme. Because of this legislation, banks are not allowed to have any business with the marijuana industry, because they run the risk of being shut down by the federal government. This has made it incredibly difficult for companies involved in the industry and has led to the issues of only accepting cash, and nowhereo where to safely store their money. Aside from this, it is extremely difficult for companies to get loans to start their businesses, thus increasing the challenge of operating a legal marijuana business. Some businesses have chosen to turn to cryptocurrency and private money moving services to tackle this issue, but this is not ideal.
The letter continues to state that banks would like “some comfort that they will not be prosecuted, or lose access to customer assets, simply for banking this industry.” If banks were able to have federal legislation, the issue for cannabis companies would be mostly eliminated. The world of cannabis in the U.S. has been extremely challenging over the past several years as a battle between federal and state law has ensued. As we enter the rest of 2018 and beyond, it is clear that there is a strong need for new regulation in the cannabis industry. Only time will tell if a meeting with Sessions can be set up in the near future to help plan how the cannabis industry can grow throughout the next several years.