Congress sets first hearing on marijuana reform

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Marijuana reform could be coming sooner, rather than later

The first Congressional hearing on marijuana reform is now officially on the schedule. Congressional Democrats are making moves to regulate the industry and introduce changes that could come as early as this year, fueling an entirely new industry and reversing a decades-old policy that has prohibited marijuana from reaching the level of respect and understanding it deserved.

The House has announced that it will hold a hearing next week in order to discuss marijuana businesses and the difficulties they face interacting with banks. The hearing, “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Baking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses,” will take place February 13 and is to be led by a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.

According to Representative Denny Heck (D-WA), marijuana reform is one of the top priorities of the new leader of the committee, Maxine Waters. He explained, “Chairwoman Waters has made it one of her first priorities to address this urgent and overdue issue, demonstrating that she understands the threat to public safety and the need for Congress to act. We have a bipartisan proposal to allow well-regulated marijuana businesses to handle their money in a way that is safe and effective for law enforcement to track. I am eager to get to the work of refining it and passing it into law.”

A bill was submitted to the House that would protect banks from being punished if they worked with marijuana businesses in the previous Congressional session. It gained 95 cosponsors, but was never able to gain traction.

Don Murphy, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, adds, “Depriving state-legal cannabis businesses of basic banking services and forcing them to operate entirely in cash presents a significant safety risk, not just to those businesses and their employees, but to the public. Support for addressing the cannabis banking problem is strong and bipartisan, and it appears Congress may be ready to adopt a real, commonsense solution. Members concerned about public safety should be jumping at the chance to express their support for this legislation.”