Congress Takes Step Forward, Step Back on Marijuana

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Congress is still apparently quite divided on how to deal with the marijuana industry and its federal status, as two developments this week underscore.

A bipartisan bill was introduced on Thursday in the Senate to prohibit federal agencies from penalizing banks that work with the marijuana industry – which could be an enormous step towards guaranteeing financial services for cannabis companies.

A day earlier, however, a measure aimed at furthering MMJ research died quietly in the House of Representatives.

The banking bill was introduced by one Republican and three Democrats from Colorado and Oregon, according to Politico. One of those lawmakers – Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a rising GOP star – called the current marijuana banking situation “insane.”

Dubbed the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015, the measure seems to be a Senate version of a bill introduced in April in the House by Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter. But Perlmutter’s bill was immediately assigned to the Judiciary Committee and has since essentially gone nowhere.

The research proposal, meanwhile, would have rescheduled marijuana so scientists across the country could produce “credible research on (marijuana’s) safety and efficacy as a medical treatment,” according to the Washington Post.

The bill wouldn’t have moved cannabis from Schedule I, per se, but created a new category called “Schedule 1R,” to allow for research to be performed. That in turn could help boost the marijuana industry in general, especially if that research shows the efficacy of medical cannabis.

But House Republicans reportedly killed the effort.