Even a divided America seems to agree that the federal prohibition of cannabis deserves a rethink. Six in 10 people say the use of marijuana should be legalized, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. On Wednesday, a congressional hearing approached that question only obliquely. But its narrow focus is more likely to lead to action – and deliver what the industry really needs.
Lawmakers from the Committee on Financial Services debated whether banks ought to be able to take on cannabis-related business in states that have made the drug legal. At present, doing so leaves deposit-takers open to reprisals from federal regulators. Companies therefore have a choice: find a local bank prepared to provide basic services at a price, or stick to cash. That’s one reason companies remain small. Two of the biggest U.S. cannabis-related companies, MedMen and Charlotte’s Web, are both well below $2 billion in market capitalization. Canada’s Canopy Growth, by contrast, is 10 times larger.
Legislation to give banks safe harbor – such as the draft SAFE Banking bill lawmakers discussed on Wednesday – should appeal to both sides. It would help create local jobs as well as new revenue streams for banks. It also makes the cash generated by the industry easier to see and easier to tax. In a sign of cross-party appeal, Republican former House Speaker John Boehner, who sits on the board of New York-based cannabis company Acreage, is among those supporting the bill.
There are drawbacks to focusing on financing alone. Congress’s brain space is limited, so more comprehensive proposals could end up getting displaced. Unshackling banks does nothing to address other issues such as the disproportionate incarceration of low-income individuals and people of color on marijuana charges. Nor would it change the tax code that prevents cannabis sellers from deducting operating costs from taxable profit.
Still, there’s virtue in moderation. Many Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have declared themselves wary of full legalization. In any case, the thousands of small businesses that grow and sell marijuana would risk extinction if giant consumer-goods makers like Altria or Kraft Heinz were free to wade in and mop up. Freeing up finance for weed companies may be the easiest way to please the greatest number of people in the shortest time.
Bill Barr will try to re-elect Trump by concocting conspiracy blaming ‘deep state’ for Russian interference: columnist
Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky believes that Attorney General Bill Barr is in the midst of a plan to reelect President Donald Trump in 2020, all while absolving Russia of any blame for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
In his latest column, Tomasky outlines troubling developments involving Barr's expansion of his investigation into the origins of the probe into the Trump campaign's multiple contacts with Russian officials in 2016.
Trump’s support among Fox News viewers and white evangelicals grows stronger as calls for impeachment grow louder
Two groups remain unmoved by the onslaught of revelations of President Donald Trump's corruption, as public support for impeachment grows among most every other demographic.
White evangelicals and Fox News viewers are the president's strongest base of support, and their devotion has only grown stronger as calls for impeachment grow louder, reported The Atlantic.
More than 70 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents still prefer Trump to remain their party's nominee in 2020, but 82 percent of white evangelical voters want him on the ballot.
Trump is at the mercy of GOP senators as he faces impeachment: ‘The balance of power has shifted’
Speaking with CNN hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, former Clinton administration spokesperson Joe Lockhart said Donald Trump is in a very bad place now that he is facing an all-but-certain impeachment trial and needs the support of every Republican lawmaker he can round up.
Noting that the president dropped his plans to hold the G7 summit at one of his golf resorts, reportedly after being pressured by GOP lawmakers, Lockhart said Trump's acquiescence -- when normally he would have ignored their advice -- demonstrates there is a new dynamic at play for the first time since Trump became president.