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The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

August 13, 2021
Dawn Dezii
Posted in: Commercial Law

On July 14, 2021 Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden released draft legislation which proposes reforms to US marijuana policy.  The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act seeks to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, expunge the records of certain convictions and to fund programs to aid those adversely impacted by the “War on Drugs.”  Decriminalizing marijuana would result in it being removed from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances list and place cannabis prohibition in the hands of the states.  Cannabis regulation on a federal level would be removed from the DEA and transferred to ATF, FDA and TTB.  There is a proposed minimum age of 21 for retail sales.

The biggest impact would be on banking and by extension insurance.  Presumably, federally insured banks would be able to accept deposits from cannabis related companies as those companies would be operating legally if so allowed under state law.  More insurance carriers may be willing to enter into the market to provide coverage for grow operations, transportation, crops and retail sales.

There were multiple bills introduced in the House of Representatives which stalled or were not brought to the Senate floor.  As proposed, this bill will have to be discussed for revisions, considered in committee and debated on the floor.   Recently the US Supreme Court refused to hear a tax case wherein a cannabis company was seeking to deduct the costs of advertising and other expenses.  Presently operators in the cannabis industry are not permitted to take such deductions.  Justice Clarence Thomas issued a statement that it was time to address the marijuana question and suggested the federal government’s approach to marijuana may no longer be necessary.

There are currently 19 states with legal adult use and 37 states which allow for medical use.  President Biden is thought to be supportive of decriminalization.