Federal Cannabis Policies

  • Cannabis remains illegal at the Federal level where it is still considered a schedule 1 drug, but the federal government has adopted a hands-off policy when it comes to state-legal marijuana
    • The Cole Memorandum issued in 2013 stated that the federal government would not enforce federal marijuana laws in states with legal cannabis due to the Justice Department's limited resources
    • The Cole Memorandum requested that states with legal marijuana take steps to make sure marijuana isn't distributed to minors or other states that haven't legalized, and to prevent marijuana revenue from going to criminal enterprises and violence from occuring at any step in the production process of cannabis products
    • The Cole memorandum was rescinded in January 2018 by Jeff Sessions, the first Attorney General appointed by President Trump, but the President has promised that legal marijuana will not be targeted by the Justice Department. His new attorney general also agrees with this hands-off policy.
    • The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment (page H4982), which passed in 2014 (after being introduced to congress in 2001 and failing to pass 6 times), prohibits the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana industry
  • The proposed SAFE Banking Act that is currently in congress would prevent banks from being punished by federal agencies for doing business with legal cannabis companies which would help the legal cannabis industry grow
    • Due to cannabis being federally illegal, banks working with state-legal cannabis companies is considered money-laundering and can put banks at risk of losing their FDIC deposit insurance. Additionally credit unions put their NCUA insurance at risk when lending to cannabis companies
    • The SAFE Banking Act would protect banks and credit unions federal insurance with the FDIC and NCUA allowing them to do business with cannabis companies with much more confidence
    • "thousands of employees, businesses and communities across this country...have been put at risk because they have been forced to deal in piles of cash...the SAFE Banking Act is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and making our communities safer." –Ed Perlmutter (CO congressman in the House of Representatives)