U.S.: NCIA Calls On Congress To Restore Commonsense Marijuana Proposals To Bills

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Despite bipartisan, majority support in both the House and Senate, the GOP "leadership" has blocked a fix to the dangerous banking crisis, and also stripped a provision allowing V.A. doctors to discuss medical marijuana with patients.

Recent actions by Congressional leadership have derailed two commonsense, majority-favored marijuana policy reform proposals that had been expected to pass through the appropriations process. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Friday called on members of Congress to work to restore those provisions as the budget negotiation process continues.

"Bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate have supported the commonsense, compassionate ideas that law-abiding cannabis businesses shouldn't be forced into dangerous all-cash operations, and that veterans who have put themselves in harm's way for our country should be able to learn about how medical marijuana could help them deal with the physical and psychological aftermath of their sacrifices," said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

"It was deeply disappointing to see those policies blocked behind closed doors this week," Smith said. "Given American voters' overwhelming support of medical marijuana access, and the critical public safety issues caused by cannabis businesses' lack of bank access, we call on lawmakers to stand up for their constituents and work to get these majority-supported provisions restored in the final budget."

Last week, a former U.S. Marine working as a security guard at a licensed Colorado dispensary was killed by two armed robbers who likely targeted the dispensary because it is widely known that cannabis businesses without bank accounts are forced to keep large amounts of cash on their premises.

But on Wednesday, the House Rules Committee blocked any debate or vote on the Heck-Perlmutter amendment to the Treasury Appropriations bill which would have prevented funds from being used to sanction banks doing business with state-compliant marijuana businesses. This could have opened up banking access for legitimate marijuana businesses, easing the public safety crisis that has been created by forcing cannabis businesses to operate in all cash.

A similar amendment recently passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee on a bipartisan vote, and two years ago, the House passed it easily on a bipartisan vote with a 39-vote margin.

Early Thursday morning, a conference committee of House and Senate leaders stripped out an amendment to the Veterans Administration funding bill which would have allowed V.A. doctors to discuss medical marijuana with their patients in states where medical marijuana access is legal. Medical marijuana has shown substantial promise as a therapy for chronic pain, PTSD, and other issues with which many veterans struggle.

The V.A. amendment had already passed with majority, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate during regular debate.

A CBS News national poll from April shows that 56 percent of Americans support full legalization of marijuana, with an overwhelming 90 percent supporting legalization for medical use.

Graphic: The Street