There is much concern in our state about the legalization of marijuana, so we did some investigating of a banking bill sponsored by, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) introduced S. 1200 on April 11, 2019. This bill would make it legal for the banking industry to conduct regular business with the marijuana growers and their ancillary businesses which is now prohibited. We spent a good deal of time reviewing these problems with Senator Crapo’s office and found he is totally against the legalization of marijuana. We believe he would like to kill this banking bill that has been proposed but are not sure if that will be the case.
Being the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee Senator Crapo holds the key to this legislation coming to a vote on the Senate floor. We have read through 10 pages of comments from a hearing held on July 23, 2019, the Senate Banking Committee titled, “Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives.” At the hearing, Senator Crapo discussed his concerns with the public health and safety issues surrounding marijuana; legacy cash and money laundering; FinCEN guidance and rulemaking; interstate commerce and banking; and initiatives similar to “Operation Choke Point.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the term “Operation Choke Point” it was an initiative put into effect by the Obama Administration to keep banks from doing business with certain industries that it thought were problems. Under fear of retribution, many banks have stopped providing financial services to members of lawful industries including the gun industry for no reason other than political pressure, which takes the guise of regulatory and enforcement scrutiny.
Other Options for addressing these concerns include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Add public health and safety solutions as a requirement for banks to do business with legally-operating state cannabis companies. Options to consider include THC potency; clear and conspicuous disclosures on products; marketing; effects on minors, unborn children and pregnant women; and age restrictions, among other considerations.
- Prevent bad actors and cartels from using legacy cash and the financial system to disguise ill-gotten cash or launder money.
- Update 2014 FinCEN rulemaking and guidance regarding marijuana-related businesses, and ensure FinCEN has all of the necessary tools it needs to prosecute money launderers and promulgate rulemakings.
- Respect state rights in interstate commerce and banking for institutions that operate in multiple states with different state rules.
Public feedback is requested on the following issues that include potential options for addressing concerns and questions outlined below. Interested parties may submit proposals to Committee staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently, there are 33 states that have legalized the use of marijuana either for medicinal or recreational purposes and the pressure is building for the federal government to formally legalize this drug. It appears that the people of Idaho, for the most part, do not want recreational marijuana in our state. Let us remind you that these are the same conservative people who said no to Medicaid Expansion 3 times and then voted for a referendum that gave us this new social expense that will cost the taxpayers millions down the line. When you say Idaho is a conservative RED state it means nothing when you see how our government allowed Medicaid Expansion to become law. Outside organizations with a vested interest in bringing Medicaid expansion to our state exploited the airwaves and newspapers with propaganda and lies advocating in favor of it. They said it would bring in untold millions of dollars to the state from the federal government. What they did not tell us was how much it could cost the state in the long run and how ineffective Medicaid really is.
If our Governor and legislature were unable in keep Medicaid Expansion out of our state how effective do you think they will be in keeping recreational marijuana out if it is passed in a referendum. Our bet is not if but when there is a major push to get a referendum in Idaho on legalizing marijuana we will see much of the same thing happen. Our politicians are more interested in keeping their jobs than in keeping our state out of the Medicaid our marijuana mess that other states are now dealing with. The outside interests will spend millions in advertising on a referendum to legalize this drug and tell us lies about how marijuana is not harmful. They will say that its legalization will bring in millions of dollars in revenue. They will tell us it will help pay for many social programs like Medicaid Expansion and help reduce taxes. Once again an uninformed electorate could wind up voting yes for something they were lied to about because they didn’t understand the ballot question or they looked at the false monetary aspects of the referendum. It would be no different than when they voted for Medicaid Expansion and pretty soon we will start looking more and more like a Blue state that we are slowly becoming.
We would like to thank Senator Crapo for his position on keeping marijuana out of our state and thank his staff for the information they made available to us. Ultimately, it will not be up to him but up to our own Governor and state representatives to bar the door for legalization of recreational marijuana. We only hope they are up to the job and will not buckle like they did on Medicaid Expansion. Our biggest fear is that they will give in to the lobbyists and big money outside interests. The important question is will they be more concerned about their jobs than the wellbeing of the general public. Think about their promise and renege of the Grocery Tax Repeal which is why we have our doubts.