Senate marijuana bill would open up banks

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A new Senate proposal to legalize marijuana would allow cannabis companies to use banking services and trade on major exchanges, according to a person involved in negotiations on the legislation, a potentially dramatic breakthrough for an industry long blocked by federal restrictions.

The sweeping new legislation, which Senate Democrats released on Wednesday, would also direct tax revenue from marijuana sales to minority communities, which faced disproportionate arrests for possession of marijuana, would retain some federal provisions on drug testing. drug and would give the Food and Drug Administration oversight of cannabis regulation.

Previous proposals to legalize marijuana have stalled due to lack of support from Republicans. The new Democratic proposal, by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, is more comprehensive than previous efforts in how it approaches regulations.

“It’s time for Congress to end the federal ban on marijuana and reinvest in the communities most affected by the failed war on drugs,” Booker said.

According to details from a discussion, the Democrats’ proposal would legalize and regulate marijuana federally, but allow states to retain their own penalties. While it does stipulate that states cannot ban cannabis from crossing their borders to be transported to another state, it leaves questions open on the controversial subject of interstate trade – which would affect large multi-state cannabis companies.

Federal non-violent marijuana offenses would be removed from records, and those convictions would no longer be used to deny federal benefits or affect immigration status.

The decision not to pursue the abolition of federal drug testing was controversial and will likely be a hot topic among senators, according to the person involved in the negotiations over the past year.

Removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances, rather than simply re-listing it as a less dangerous drug or decriminalizing possession, would remove the most difficult regulatory burdens on U.S. marijuana companies, allowing them to benefit from tax deductions, to own bank accounts and loans, and be listed on US stock exchanges such as the Nasdaq and the NYSE.

A new federal excise tax would gradually increase over several years to 25%. The first $ 20 million in sales per business would have a 50% tax rate cut – an attempt to encourage small marijuana businesses.

The proceeds would be used to fund a trust fund to reinvest in communities worst affected by the war on drugs, as well as in public health and safety research. The proposal also calls for comment on whether research funds could be directed specifically to historically black colleges and universities.

Marijuana is reportedly regulated by several agencies, including the FDA; the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Commerce; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The bill would give the FDA oversight of not only pharmaceuticals containing cannabis, but also food products, the person said. In the most recent version, it was not clear whether pre-market approvals would be required for cannabis products.

The Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services would be tasked with collecting data on cannabis-impaired driving and doing research that could lead to a standard for impaired driving – as this and The drug’s effect on fetal development are among “critical gaps” in the understanding of the already widely used substance, according to the draft discussion summary.

Senators are asking for comments on the legislation by September 1 as they prepare to formally introduce the measure.

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