Will Congress Help the Cannabis Industry Fight Jeff Sessions?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions took his first stab towards the cannabis industry recently when he rescinded a policy that has kept the federal government from interfering in states where marijuana is legal.  Cannabis friendly state leaders have officially turned to congress for help.

Attorney Generals from 18 different cannabis friendly states have sent a letter to congress this month asking to change the law and create an exemption for banks that want to deal with cannabis businesses. This is a move to create stability in the rapidly growing industry that has already grown to a $7 billion market.  Banking being one of the biggest issues this industry has to overcome. 

Because cannabis is still illegal according to federal law big banks won’t extend services to marijuana businesses due to the fact that they regulate themselves according to federal law. Sessions decision to rescind the Cole Memo, which was a policy from the Obama administration which was meant to keep the federal law from interfering with the states who have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use, has just made such an issue a bit harder to overcome. 

The Attorney General’s letter to congress begins by making the point that cannabis businesses operate in a bit of a “grey market” being forced to work with cash only transactions without having access to banks, and that this fact serves nobody’s best interest.  Being able to track cannabis businesses income could actually result in higher tax revenue.  

The letter didn’t come out and say it but certainly alluded to the fact that it already seems a bit late to harm the cannabis industry’s rapid growth.  It points out the the industry has made $6.7 billion in 2016 and is projected to $20 billion by 2021.