Washington, D.C., USA: A federal cannabis bill introduced on Thursday would help marijuana businesses get banking services. President Trump said on Friday that he likely will support the bipartisan congressional effort to ease federal restrictions on marijuana.
The bill known as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, or STATES Act gives states the authority to create their own marijuana laws — would open the door to banking for businesses by declaring that cannabis activities that comply with state rules do not constitute “trafficking” and their proceeds, therefore, are not the fruits of illegal transactions.
The STATES Act, from Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, and Reps. David Joyce, R-Ohio, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, would keep in place restrictions such as the bans on the sale of recreational marijuana to people under 21 and on employing anyone under 18 in a cannabis-related job.
The bill would also prohibit marijuana distribution at places such as rest areas and truck stops. By allowing states to control what happens with cannabis within their borders, the bill could also usher in new medicinal research into the drug. And industrial hemp, which can be turned into oils or fabrics, wouldn’t be classified as marijuana under the proposal.
“This is allowing the states to determine for themselves what they are going to do under recreational marijuana or medical marijuana … and oils, anything else that they may decide, in this area of the law,” Gardner said in a joint interview with Warren. “This is not a legalization bill. This doesn’t change the schedule. This just says that if a state like Massachusetts or Colorado decides to legalize, then that would be allowed under federal law. If a state like Oklahoma doesn’t want to do that, nothing changes.”
The STATES Act would not only permit businesses to get bank accounts — since their operations would no longer be considered federal crimes — it could also allow them to deduct ordinary business expenses from their taxes.
And a broader fear — that the feds could simply shut everything down someday — would potentially be abated, at least for the businesses that are licensed and in compliance with state regulations.
The proposed law doesn’t explicitly address whether cannabis could be sold across state lines, though, said it might leave room for that possibility, if the states sending and receiving the product both authorized those operations.
Trump suggested Friday he could get behind it, Speaking to reporters as he left the White House Friday morning for the G-7 summit in Canada, Trump said, “I probably will end up supporting” bipartisan legislation that would give states wide latitude over marijuana regulation.
Asked about the proposal by Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Trump said, “I support Sen. Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing; we’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
The position put him at odds with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who earlier this year encouraged federal prosecutors to file criminal charges for marijuana crimes, even in states that have legalized sale and use of the drug.
Nine states, as well as Washington, D.C., have legalized all adult use of marijuana – recreational marijuana and medical marijuana . Twenty other states permit medical marijuana use.
But because of the federal prohibition, many businesses are locked out of traditional banking and lending activities. Retailers are known to stuff piles of cash into shopping bags and suitcases – with huge public safety implications – when trucking payments to state tax collectors. California Lawmakers are working on a bill that would create a state charter bank for the marijuana (cannabis) industry.
California cities such as Oakland require cannabis business applicants to submit detailed security plans to lessen the chances of getting robbed.