June 3, 2019 1:15PM

Progress Toward Fuller Marijuana Legalization?

The fight for marijuana legalization received a boost yesterday as the House Appropriations Committee released a draft bill for fiscal year 2020 Financial Services and General Government funding that includes provisions to protect financial services providers who do business with the marijuana industry.

The key provision of the legislation is Section 633 which states:

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds, and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State, political subdivision of a State, or Indian Tribe: Provided, That the term ‘‘State’’ means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and any territory or possession of the United States.”

The legislation also removes an existing appropriations rider which has blocked the District of Columbia from using local revenues to regulate the production and sale of marijuana, which was legalized by voters in a 2014 ballot measure.

The victory for marijuana advocates is not total, however. Forbes reports:

“The provision only applies to spending legislation covering the Treasury Department, however, and thus would not shield banks from any enforcement activities carried out by the Justice Department, which is funded under a separate bill. It is also attached to the annual appropriations process, meaning it would have to be proactively renewed year after year if it is enacted.”

While it may be premature to celebrate the inclusion of this pro-marijuana language in Treasury funding, positive steps continue to be made in the push for legalization.

 

 

Research assistant Erin Partin co-authored this blog post.