For the first time since 2011, the Democrats have the majority in the House of Representatives, and it appears that reforming federal marijuana laws is one of their highest priorities. While 33 states so far have legalized medical and/or recreational use, cannabis remains federally prohibited, further complicating the implementation and regulation of the nation’s growing legal marijuana industry. On Wednesday, Congressional Democrats announced a scheduled hearing focused on the challenges legal marijuana businesses face in obtaining bank accounts because many financial insitutitions fear they’ll be found in violation of federal money laundering and drug laws.
A subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), will participate in the February 13th hearing, but Marijuana Moment reports that members are already preparing to move a marijuana banking bill to a full-committee vote in the next few months. One reason for the accelerated timetable is the fact that House Democrats first proposed legislation to address the issue six years ago, and several times since, but the GOP majority prevented any further progress.
“We warned that forcing these businesses to deal in cash was threatening public safety,” Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) told Forbes about the marijuana banking legislation he and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) co-sponsored. “No hearing was given. … 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.”