On the heels of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, introducing legislation to Congress to deschedule cannabis, the National Conference of State Legislatures adopted a resolution at its summit in Boston on Aug. 7, 2017, urging the federal government to deschedule cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.
According to the resolution, “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.”
State legislators are asking the feds to deschedule cannabis for three key reasons: states’ rights, medical research opportunities and banking access.
“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a press release.
States don’t currently have control over the enforcement of federal cannabis laws within their jurisdictions and they are prohibited from enacting legislation that would protect cannabis-friendly financial institutions from federal enforcement actions.
The resolution specifically states, “In allowing each state to craft its own regulations we may increase transparency, public safety, and economic development where it is wanted.”
Beyond allowing states to craft their own cannabis policies, legislators approved the resolution in an attempt to open up medical cannabis research opportunities.
“We are asking the federal government to remove cannabis from scheduling so that we can forge ahead with life-changing cannabis medical research,” said Oregon Sen. Ted Ferrioli in a press release.
States’ rights and medical research were important elements in the resolution’s adoption, but banking access played a major role.
“As more states continue to legalize either medical or adult use cannabis, it is imperative that we allow legal cannabis businesses to access the banking system,” said Oregon Sen. Ginny Burdick in a statement. “Cash only business leaves room for noncompliance, inaccurate recordkeeping and lack of access to capital. Access to the banking system means better financial regulation and public safety for this growing industry.”
Considering 29 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Guam have legalized medical cannabis, legalization is likely a topic the NCSL couldn’t ignore. The summit featured a cannabis banking panel on Aug. 6 and a cannabis federalism panel on Aug. 7, and it will feature a panel on state cannabis laws on Aug. 8.