On Thursday, July 29, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending legislation package that, among other things, will provide protections for banks that work with legal cannabis-related businesses. Other measures in the bill, which accomplished a lot of but not all of the pro-reform actions activists were hoping for, include annual funding provisions for a wide range of federal entities. This includes funding for the Departments of Education, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs, all of which can be tied back to the burgeoning cannabis industry.
While many of the provisions attached to the bill are exciting (such as the legalization of cannabis sales in Washington, D.C., for instance), the news that “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to penalize a financial institution” on the basis that they work with a broad range of listed cannabis-related businesses has been long-awaited. Cannabis businesses have been trying to seek solutions in creative ways.
Although medical marijuana has been legal for decades in some states and recreational marijuana is being legalized at an unbelievable rate today, various marijuana operations have been barred from storing their income in the very buildings we’re all constantly told are the safest places to keep our savings. Banks, in turn, were liable to face penalties for working with marijuana operations, but with this new spending legislature, both sides can finally breathe a little bit easier.
The complicated cannabis banking situation in the U.S. is far from over, though, as representatives and concerned parties remain somewhat divided on the best way to move forward. While we await more news on the future of cannabis businesses and banking, there is much more cannabis-related spending legislation in the package.
As it pertains to Education, for instance, the Act reads that, “None of the funds appropriated by this title for the Department of Education shall be withheld from an institution of higher education solely because that institution is conducting or preparing to conduct research on marihuana as defined in 21 U.S.C. 802(16).” In other words, the much-needed and desired scientific research on marijuana can now begin to proliferate at some of the top universities across the country.
If you’re wondering why the official language from the Act sometimes spells “marijuana” as “marihuana,” both spellings are apparently acceptable and still broadly used especially in government settings. While we’re used to today’s slang that includes words such as weed, bongs, ganja, dab rigs, nugs, and more, it can be interesting to revisit the past and understand how the language of the cannabis world has evolved over time, just as the policies surrounding it are constantly changing.