by Morgan Fox, NCIA’s Director of Media Relations
We asked, you answered, and your efforts are seeing results!
Over the past months, our Government Relations team in Washington, D.C. has been hard at work gathering support in Congress for the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, and many of our members responded to the call to contact their lawmakers to urge them to support the legislation and bring it to a floor vote in the House. Well, our mutual work is paying off!
Last week, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) announced that the MORE Act would be called for the vote! This was confirmed Monday as taking place during the week of September 21.
This legislation would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and do away with the continuing conflict between states with modern cannabis laws and the federal government. It would also expunge federal cannabis convictions, remove barriers to research, eliminate the current problems with the 280E tax code and lack of access to banking, promote more diverse participation in the cannabis industry, and establish funds to help undo the disparate harms caused by prohibition.
Make no mistake: this vote will be historic. This will be the first time that a bill to end cannabis prohibition has come up for a full vote in either chamber of Congress, and the results of the vote could determine the path of cannabis policy reform efforts for years to come.
This means we have just three weeks to drum up as much support as possible and show our elected officials where the vast majority of Americans stand on cannabis.
Meanwhile, our efforts to maintain momentum for cannabis banking reform have continued throughout the negotiations of the next pandemic relief bill. Despite a somewhat contentious public debate over the size and scope of the stimulus funds in general, hope is still alive for the SAFE Banking Act provision to be included in the final legislation if Congress can come to some agreements on the numerous other issues at stake.
What is not up for debate is that SAFE Banking is an absolutely necessary part of COVID-19 relief. This measure will improve public health and safety by enabling more social distancing and decreasing cannabis businesses’ reliance on cash transactions which can spread contagions and make them a target for crime. Most importantly, it will help thousands of small businesses – with hundreds of thousands of employees across the country – survive these difficult times while providing uninterrupted healthcare services. It doesn’t get more COVID-relevant than that.
While it is still uncertain when or how the House and Senate will arrive at a compromise for pandemic relief, we don’t have much time before the elections divert most of their attention.
Keep an eye out for updates on ways you can help get SAFE Banking passed this year.
We couldn’t do this work without the support and assistance of our valued members. If you are not yet a member, please support our work by joining today. If you already are a member, thank you for making our advocacy work possible.