The election of Donald Trump coincided with a whirlwind of activity surrounding marijuana policy, as voters in eight states decided in favor of initiatives regulating the distribution of cannabis for either medical or non-medical purposes.
Yet despite this statewide progress, the specter of marijuana prohibitionists such as Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions being appointed to federal offices in the new administration has justifiably left advocates, including NORML, uneasy.
But this week, Trump nominee for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, bucked this trend — indicated that he is open to the idea of working with financial regulatory agencies to level the playing field for local marijuana businesses.
Currently, state-licensed marijuana business face a web of conflicting regulations. Specifically, federal prohibitions largely prohibit these businesses from working with financial institutions, processing credit cards, and taking standard business deductions. When asked about these financial hurdles, Mnuchin stated, “I will work with Congress and the President to determine which provisions of the current tax code should be retained, revised or eliminated to ensure that all individuals and businesses compete on a level playing field.”
No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to reliable banking solutions. While it is encouraging to see that a small but growing number financial operators are beginning to provide necessary services to those engaged in state-compliant cannabis commerce, it is self-evident that this industry will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing.
But while Mnuchin’s statements may indicate a step in the right direction, ultimately, the responsibility is upon Congress — not upon the US Treasury Department or upon state lawmakers — to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.
There will be a number of pieces of legislation introduced in Congress to address these federal banking issues in the near future, and NORML will notify you as further developments unfold.
Please make sure to join our email list to receive our action alerts.
As the nation’s largest and oldest consumer rights group, NORML is committed to supporting efforts that provide a safe, convenient, aboveground market for cannabis consumers, and that allow local entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace free from undue federal interference.