Colorado’s governor is trying to convince Congress to approve cannabis banking reform quickly

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Governor Polis wants federal lawmakers to tackle banking reform

Senate sponsors of a federal marijuana legalization bill are being urged by Colorado’s Governor to first pass cannabis tax and banking reform before tackling the issue of legalization that would end prohibition at the federal level. It appears that the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) is receiving full support from Colorado Governor Jared Polis. The intent of this bill is to deprogram marijuana and promote social equity. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Senator Cory Booker are currently sponsoring the legislation.

Polis insists that there are more practical and modest steps that could be considered first to support state-legal markets and provide better protection for companies that base their business models on cannabis. “I am thrilled that you are bringing forward a long-term, comprehensive solution that deschedules cannabis while enhancing social equity pathways,” the governor wrote in the letter he sent late last week. “I hope that you will first focus your efforts on the two biggest barriers to the success of the cannabis industry: banking and IRS Code Section 280E.”

Marijuana businesses in states where the plant is already legal cannot take federal tax deductions because of this latest statute, something that definitely sets them apart from other traditional industries. Polis said the Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, “has more bipartisan support than ever before and can be passed in the short-term as you continue to work on the details of the CAOA.”

Although the Senators who are carrying the CAOA ultimately think that banking reform will not have as much trouble passing, they say it is best to give priority focus first to the legalization bill, especially to avoid jeopardizing support for broader reform from members who are considered more recondite.