As more and more states legalize cannabis, there is one question that remains. Will the federal government ever change the status of cannabis from a schedule II drug? Until the federal government makes the decision to decriminalize the use of cannabis, the industry remains at the government’s mercy.
What are the implications of that? Aside from the risk of prosecution for possession, it means that banks, which are federally regulated, are reluctant to conduct business with those in the cannabis industry. Due to the bank’s reluctance, cannabis business owners do not have access to the same loans and financial protections that other industries do. This has had a chilling effect on marijuana dispensaries that have had to operate on a cash-only basis in lieu of using banks to conduct transactions.
ILLINOIS SPEAKING OUT
Since President Trump’s inauguration, cannabis advocates across the nation have been looking to the administration for clues about the future relationships between the banks and cannabis businesses. During his confirmation, Attorney General Sessions equivocated and remained vague on his plans for the banking and the cannabis industry.
Illinois’ state treasurer, Michael Frerichs, released this statement in January in the hopes that Trump would offer clear guidance on the banks’ role in the medical marijuana industry. But like many in his administration, President Trump has remained vague on the subject.
But cannabis advocates remain hopeful that the Trump administration will allow banks and cannabis business to obtain a symbiotic relationship. After all, this administration has said they are interested in seeing business growth across the country. Reassurances from President Trump and Attorney General Sessions would provide the confidence that cannabis growers and dispensaries would need to move forward confidently.
STUDIES TOUT MARIJUANA’S MEDICAL BENEFITS
The Controlled Substances Act that bans marijuana federally classes marijuana as a Schedule I substance with “no currently accepted medical use.” The deluge of recent medical findings on marijuana’s success in treating conditions like childhood epilepsy would argue otherwise.
Michael Frerichs from Illinois and hundreds of other government officials from around the country forward findings that show the positive impact medical marijuana can have on serious medical conditions like childhood epilepsy and the nausea associated with chemotherapy.
The consensus view among many marijuana advocates and government officials nationwide is that banking laws in Illinois and similar states should protect medical-marijuana users and financial institutions working with the cannabis industry. Still, questions linger about how Trump plans on enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana financing.