By Lewis Koski, Forbes on April 5, 2023
In a country where adult-use cannabis remains federally illegal but each state has unique laws governing its industry, understanding the current political dynamics and future of the cannabis industry is a daunting task. In today’s hyperpolarized political climate where compromise is rare, cannabis stands out as an issue not clearly divided along party lines, meaning no one knows which party will step up as the torch bearer for legalization in the United States.
Cannabis reform in Congress ended on a mixed note last year, as President Joe Biden signed historic cannabis research legislation while the SAFE Banking Act, which has passed the House of Representatives seven times with broad bipartisan support, failed to pass the Senate once again. SAFE Banking would allow banks to do business with cannabis-related companies, reversing the status quo of operating in cash since cannabis’ status as a Schedule I drug leaves few alternatives.
Central to SAFE Banking’s most recent defeat was a combination of the historical divide on the topic and the fact that the two legislative vehicles it could have been attached to were unrelated, must-pass government spending and defense bills that could not afford to wait for last-minute differences on cannabis banking to be further reconciled.
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