President of the Fed in the Senate: "I think it would be good to have clarification" on cannabis

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by Justin Strekal, NORML Policy Director
February 27, 2019

While the tentacles of federal policy on cannabis prohibition have deep roots in almost all areas of US public policy, a new voice has been voiced asking for clarification on the legal markets for cannabis: the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell.

Currently, almost none of the companies operating in the cannabis area can legally obtain a bank account, process a credit card or benefit from a standard deduction on its federal taxes. This is because the federal law continues to inappropriately define all marijuana-related activities as criminal enterprises, including commercial activities that are legally permitted and regulated by state laws.

"My home state, New Jersey, is moving towards the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, and I'm concerned that these new businesses, as well as medical marijuana companies existing in this State, are no longer in the banking system, "said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at the biannual monetary policy hearing. "And when these companies are forced to operate exclusively in cash, they create serious public safety problems."

To which Federal Reserve Chairman Powell responded, "I think it would be great to have some clarification. This puts financial institutions in a very difficult place and puts supervisors in a difficult place. It would be good to clarify this supervisory relationship. "

Clarity can mean a lot, but what should be the cornerstone of any major marijuana reform is the removal of cannabis itself from the Controlled Substances Act.

By removing marijuana from the CSA, the barriers to banking access, capital and other problems related to the fledgling industry would be eliminated. Not to mention that it would mark the end of the shameful and shameful criminalization of cannabis possession by otherwise law-abiding adults.

Ultimately, Congress needs to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-owned businesses, and the millions of Americans who attend them, will no longer be subject to policies that put them unnecessarily at risk. Cannabis companies must be subject to the same standards as other commercial enterprises.

Earlier this month, NORML provided testimony to this effect at a House Financial Services Committee hearing, which you can read HERE.

You can watch the exchange below.

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