by Joshua Gilstrap, e2b teknologies
Over the years, the simple possession or use of cannabis has seen many lives upended by arrests and criminal convictions. Unfairly, racial disparities have determined that black and brown individuals suffer most of these convictions, arrests, and prosecutions, even though white individuals use and possess cannabis at similar rates. The resulting criminal records lead to individuals being denied fundamental rights to employment, housing, and education opportunities.
However, on October 6, 2022, President Biden made an announcement that could change the cannabis and criminal clemency conversation. The president asserted he would:
- grant pardons to individuals with prior low-level federal cannabis possession offenses
- change federal cannabis laws by reviewing the cannabis Schedule I rule.
The federal government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance puts it in the same category as more lethal drugs like heroin and LSD while drugs like fentanyl are not considered less severe than marijuana since it falls under Schedule II.
As more states legalize the sale and use of cannabis, the classification of Schedule I no longer makes sense. Additionally, more direct research on the proper utilization of marijuana can develop suitable restrictive and preventative measures to protect against harmful outcomes of cannabis use.
The Biden initiative is crucial because it can begin to remove the burden of employment, education, and housing limitations often experienced by individuals with simple cannabis possession convictions. Besides, if marijuana is rescheduled to Schedule II, or as many advocates champion for a complete descheduling, it could mean the end of cannabis prohibition altogether.
Widespread Support for this Initiative
Nearly 70% of Americans support the President’s pardon proclamation. Publicly, two in three Americans support Biden’s plan for cannabis reforms, and three in four support the removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Bipartisan support for this move is also high, with 74% of Independents, 84% of Democrats, and 58% of Republicans backing the proposal. At the state level, 68% of respondents support governors that want to issue pardons for people with low-level cannabis possession convictions.
Why This is Important
The expeditious review process requested by President Biden has the potential to open the cannabis industry to further changes, like the easing of banking restrictions for cannabis businesses. For instance, the call for action by governors is already inspiring many to rethink state and local relief for marijuana users. Kentucky, Colorado, and Kansas are three states already actively considering enacting the Biden pardons and drafting new reform bills for marijuana cases.
The Colorado governor is pushing Congress to pass a bipartisan banking bill on marijuana.
“The lack of safe banking and financial services for the cannabis industry in the State of Colorado has become a dire public safety issue for highly regulated cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state law,” Gov. Jared Polis’ office wrote to House and Senate leaders.
“Further, the lack of safe banking exacerbates the uneven playing field faced by small and minority-owned cannabis businesses, despite their serving the same communities and being subject to the same increased state regulation as other cannabis businesses in the State,” the letter said.
It’s true – over the years, the cannabis industry has dealt with a lack of financial and banking services because of the strict regulations and criminalization associated with marijuana. Consequently, this has resulted in severe public safety issues, even for cannabis businesses that operate within the compliance mandates of the state law.
Additionally, operators are disadvantaged because they lack funding or banking systems that support cannabis business processes. But following Biden’s pardon, many hope that Congress’ marijuana reform will pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act for the industry.
If passed, the protection against armed robbery will increase. Also, the SAFE Banking Act will support the minority, veterans, and women who own small cannabis businesses. This, in turn, is expected to improve public safety amid the growing use of cannabis and cannabis products while simultaneously creating jobs within states.
Ushering in the Era of Cannabis Banking and FDIC
Even though the SAFE Banking Act has been in the House of Congress seven times, federally insured banking services and modern digital banking solutions like electronic payment processing are still inaccessible to the cannabis industry.
The Act lags in the senate under Democratic and Republican control. However, the senate is said to be preparing to enact the reform for the SAFE Banking Act as part of the Biden marijuana proposals. And why not? There is significant support for the SAFE Banking Act.
For instance, National Association of State Treasures members have voiced their support for the SAFE Banking Act. Public policy also demands the immediate relief the ACT will provide cannabis businesses. Therefore, the expectation that leaders in the government will push for banking reforms for cannabis businesses is prevalent.
The SAFE Banking Act is an Advocate for the War on Drugs
Many believe that the baking legislation would advocate for the war on drugs because it would offer protection against the risk of robbery and violence. By denying cash-based cannabis businesses access to the traditional financial system, the state and local governments provide an invitation threat that has seen many victims working in cannabis businesses lose their lives or livelihoods.
On the other hand, the right to payment solutions, like credit cards, protects against armed robbery. Nonetheless, for the banking legislation to work, it requires the support of criminal reforms. This is where initiatives like predicant Biden’s pardon and marijuana schedule reform come in.
The SAFE Banking Act will solve the injustice associated with financial inequality, thus, providing public safety that protects customers, employees, and businesses in the cannabis industry. And with reduced invitations for armed robberies working in tandem with the use of mandated cannabis products, the war on drugs will ensue.
Cannabis Businesses Contribute Equally to the Economy
As such, it is only fair to provide them with the same rights and protections that other businesses, whether big or small, enjoy. Therefore, starting with the push to decriminalize and legalize marijuana, not just at the federal level but at the state level, is a solid place to start.
Following this pardon with an advocacy of the SAFE Banking Act will additionally provide cannabis businesses with the capability to carry out operations securely and optimally. But attention must be paid to the details pertinent to these reforms to ensure thousands of convicts get a better chance at life and cannabis businesses get opportunities to continue contributing to the economy.
What does President Biden’s pardon for marijuana possession entail?
President Biden’s cannabis reform initiatives are set to accomplish three things:
- Pardon convicts with low-level marijuana possession offenses, thus, allowing them to get housing, education, and employment without prejudice
- Reduce the marijuana Schedule level on the Controlled Substances Act from Schedule I to Schedule II, which lessens the seriousness of marijuana possession
- Inspire governors to offer the same pardons at the state and local levels where most marijuana convictions are carried out
Is there support for President Biden’s announcement?
Yes. There is ample support from the public and bipartisan control for Biden’s pardon and advocacy for the marijuana schedule change in the Controlled Substances Act.
What would the pardon mean for cannabis banking?
The de-scheduling of the marijuana Controlled Substances Act would remove the many legal hurdles and fears of the financial institutions that keep them from supporting cannabis businesses. This would reduce the discriminatory risks associated with banking or financing cannabis businesses.
Joshua Gilstrap is the Marketing Manager for e2b teknologies, in addition to his marketing responsibilities Joshua leads business development for e2b teknologies emerging Canna Suite product line. A business graduate with a focus in marketing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, he joined the e2b team in the Fall of 2019. Josh brought with him a wide array of business and practical experience in planning and execution. Since coming aboard he has led multiple projects including website hosting and theme standardization company wide, marketing automation streamlining the efficiency of the customer journey, and sales automation where he is changing the conversation from promotion to education, from pitching to catching, and from push to pull in order to keep up with the shifting tides of a digital transformation.