BIPARTISAN WEED: THE CONGRESSIONAL CANNABIS CAUCUS

Just when you thought all hopes of “reaching across the aisle” have gone up in smoke, well they actually have.  Introducing The Congressional Cannabis Caucus!

Launched by two democrats, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Colorado’s Jared Polis and two republicans, Dana Rohrabacher of California and Alaska’s Don Young, the bipartisan caucus want to coordinate and mesh the prohibitive federal laws with the growing number of permissive use states’ laws.  All four coincidentally are from state where recreational marijuana is legal and made the announcement of its formation this past week.

Having personally derived benefits from medicinal marijuana himself, representative Blumenauer said that “the prohibition of cannabis has been a failure and Americans across our nation are demanding a more sensible approach.  Federal laws are now out of step with 44 states.”

Armed with bipartisan co-sponsorship, Rohrabacher introduced a measure called the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017 which seeks to protect people from marijuana-related prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act, as long as they are in compliance with state laws.

With a majority of Americans supporting legalizing marijuana in one form or another, these caucus representatives are “cautiously optimistic the President Trump will maintain the commitment he made on the campaign trail where he said it would be a state issue”. And this is true even in light of the concerns about the new Attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

The Cannabis Caucus will bring together members of both parties to participate in the advancement of sensible cannabis policy reform.

As would be expected, some of the industry’s top leading lobbying groups and associations like NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project have issued a joint statement commending these lawmakers.

There is some irony to the notion that Washington may finally find consensus because of an unpartisan and unpretentious green plant.

Cashing in on Cannabis; CannaCon’s Banking Panel

Marijuana’s profitability is no secret. Since Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, recreational marijuana sales in the state have totaled over $1 billion, translating to over $250 million collected in taxes. Such substantial sales, however, have also brought problems in the form of cash.

Because of marijuana’s federal status as a Schedule I substance, financial institutions continue to deny banking services to state licensed marijuana businesses. Consequently, these businesses have been forced to deal in cash and suffer the sometimes lethal consequences.

There are, however, licensed marijuana businesses who have broken free from cash with the help of third party platforms like PayQwick. Licensed marijuana businesses can now easily access regular businesses bank accounts, cash management and bill pay services and the ability to send and receive electronic payments. These businesses also enjoy the added benefit of compliance services, which keep them operating in line with all of the state’s regulations.

To learn how to break free from cash, marijuana business owners and those considering the marijuana industry can attend CannaCon’s banking panel, “Cashing In On Cannabis – Compliance, Banking and Cash Management” on Friday, February 17, 2017 at 11:30 am in seminar room two. Moderated by MJBA CEO and Co-Founder David Rheins, the panel consists of Kenneth Berke, Christine Masse and Myles Khan.

Ken is the Co-Founder and CEO of PayQwick, Inc., a compliance, cash management and electronic payment processing platform that has facilitated regular business bank accounts for over 200 licensed marijuana businesses throughout Washington. He is also an attorney with 29 years of experience and has advocated for the legal marijuana industry before regulators throughout the U.S.

Christine Masse is a partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, where she leads the government and regulatory affairs practice group and specializes in representing businesses in highly regulated industries with their transactional, regulatory, and public policy needs. She also leads the firm’s tribal team, providing counsel to various Northwest Native American tribes and organizations on matters such as marijuana.

Myles is a legal officer at Foundry Law. His practice focuses on corporate, entertainment, intellectual property, business development, cannabis and regulatory matters. Myles also owns Buddy’s, one of Washington’s most prominent marijuana retailers.

The panel will focus on how businesses can reduce their cash use, secure bank accounts and remain compliant. Attendees will be able to ask questions of the panelists.