Two big events transpired in the cannabis community this week: the Obama administration cleared the way for banks to do limited business with cannabusinesses, and a cabal of congressmen petitioned POTUS to reschedule marijuana with the DEA.
On Wednesday, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and 17 of his colleagues sent a letter to the president asking him to reconsider the way cannabis is categorized. It’s currently a Schedule I substance, in the same category as heroin ("no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.") Bizarrely, cocaine and meth are categorized as Schedule II because they have "less abuse potential" (???!). At least now we know what the drug czars were using when they drew up these laws.
"You said that you don't believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous 'in terms of its impact on the individual consumer,’” the letter reads. “This is true. Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I... This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs. This makes no sense."
Along with Blumenauer, the letter is signed by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
In other news, the Obama administration released guidelines today for how banks can work with cannabis businesses in states where its legal. This finally allows potrepreneurs to store money in traditional accounts. Many were restricted to being cash-only operations in the past—making them targets for organized crime.
"This is a huge victory for our members, our communities, and the banks that take this opportunity to serve a thriving new market," National Cannabis Industry Association director Aaron Smith said in a statement. "No legitimate business should be forced to manage its payroll, taxes, utility bills, and licensing fees entirely in cash."
"These guidelines, together with the Treasury Department's guidance to financial institutions, are intended to increase the availability of financial services for marijuana businesses that are licensed and regulated,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said in a written statement, “while at the same time preserving and enhancing important law enforcement tools."