Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana. The big news this week is that, for the first time ever, a cannabis bill, the SAFER Banking Act, got a markup in the Senate. The MORE Act has been re-introduced and it’s possible the HOPE Act will become part of SAFER. Not everyone on Capitol Hill is in favor of federal cannabis legalization; there’s also a new bill that would give Congress the opportunity to prevent the rescheduling of cannabis. There’s a state story as well: the new head of cannabis regulation in Minnesota resigned the day after she was appointed. And finally, a cautionary tale about sheep and marijuana. Spoiler alert: the two don’t mix.
Although the SAFE Banking Act has passed multiple times in the House of Representatives, it’s never gotten out of committee in the Senate. Until now. The Senate Banking Committee held a markup session this week on the SAFER Banking Act (the R stands for regulation), and the bill now moves to the Senate floor. There’s been a lot of chatter in the cannabis press about how groundbreaking this is, and how legal financial services for marijuana businesses are coming soon. But is that really true? Sure, this is further than the legislation has gotten before, but there’s still a LONG way to go on this. And, in case you’ve not heard, we’re on the brink of a government shutdown. So, perhaps that vision of an ATM card with a big leaf on it is still just a dream.
MORE & HOPE
Banking isn’t the only cannabis-related legislation working its way through the halls of Congress. The MORE Act is back for another run. This legislation would decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level, require expungement of criminal records and set up grant programs for those most affected by the War on Drugs.
And the HOPE Act may be included as an amendment to SAFER, in an effort to shore up votes from Senators (like Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA)) who are concerned the bill as written does not include social justice language.
Let me be very clear: I’m not opposed to easing or undoing federal restrictions around cannabis. And I would support all of the provisions and reforms in this legislation if paired with broader cannabis reforms that substantively addressed the issue of restorative justice.Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA)
Another cannabis act was introduced late last week, the Deferring Executive Authority Act (DEA). This would prevent executive agencies from rescheduling cannabis without Congressional approval. Basically, before marijuana could be rescheduled, Congress would be able to issue a joint resolution disapproving of such an action. Only if the joint resolution was not issued could the rescheduling take place.
Easy come, easy go. Minnesota’s newly-appointed director of the Office of Cannabis Management has resigned the day after she was appointed. A Minnesota Public Radio story revealed that Erin Dupree “ran a business that sold products that exceeded state limits on THC potency, owed money to former associates and accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in tax liens.” Oops. Governor Tim Walz (D) has said he’ll choose a regulator for the job going forward.
First there was cocaine bear, now it’s cannabis sheep. Some sheep in Greece (where medical marijuana is legal) got into a greenhouse recently, and helped themselves to 200 pounds of cannabis. The shepherd realized there was a problem when his charges starting jumping higher than goats and exhibiting other strange behavior. Moral of the story: be careful what kind of grass you feed your flock.
Be well and we’ll see you next week.