In every state except Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska, there is some legal provision for the possession and consumption of cannabis for medical or adult use purposes. Yet, the United States government, since the enactment of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, continues to list “marihuana” on the List of Controlled Substances along with the most dangerous and addictive drugs, but there is active and planned legislation in Congress that would, if made law, officially end the federal prohibition on cannabis.
The policy disconnect between 47 states and the federal government comes with significant and mounting costs for cannabis businesses, a rapidly growing sector. According to market analyst BDSA, cannabis sales in the United States grew by 48 percent between 2019 and 2020 with total nationwide sales in 2020 of $17.5 billion.
According to state records, Nevada sold nearly $700 million in cannabis products in 2020, a number that includes both medical and adult use sales. Oregon’s adult use sales tally was $1.1 billion. California cannabis businesses led the nation with some $4.4 billion in adult use cannabis and derivative products sold last year.
But because “marihuana” is on the List of Controlled Substances, these many businesses are considered illegal drug manufacturers and dealers and thereby lack access to traditional banking services and cannot deduct business expenses from federal taxes. Interstate commerce is strictly prohibited under federal law, and each state is an utterly cloistered market, from manufacturing to retail sales.
The Safe Banking Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives on April 19 of this year and now awaits action in the Senate. In a broad sense, the bill generally prohibits a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services