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  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate July 23, 2015

    Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 today in favor of an aUS_capitolmendment to allow state-compliant marijuana businesses to engage in relationships with financial institutions.

    Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon and Patty Murray (D) of Washington, the amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill prohibits the US Treasury Department from using federal funds to take punitive actions against banks that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

    Presently, most major financial institutions refuse to provide services to state-compliant operators in the marijuana industry out of fear of federal repercussions. Their refusal to do so presents an unnecessary risk to both those who operate in the legal marijuana industry and to those consumers who patronize it.

    No industry can operate safely, transparently or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Further, forcing state-licensed businesses to operate on a ‘cash-only’ basis increases the risks for crime and fraud.

    It is time for Congress to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities. Today’s Senate Committee vote marks the first step taken by Congress to address these federal policy deficiencies.

    Although stand-alone legislation, The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, is pending in both the House and the Senate, it appears unlikely at this time that leadership will move forward with either bill. This means that the Merkley/Murray amendment is like to be reformer’s best opportunity this Congress to impose substantial banking reform.

    Keep following NORML’s blog and Take Action Center for legislative updates as this and other relevant reform measures progress. To take action in support of the Merkley/Murray amendment, click here here.

    The following Senators voted in favor of the Merkley/Murray amendment:

    Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
    Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
    Christopher Coons (D-DE)
    Dick Durbin (D-IL)
    Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
    Steve Daines (R-MT)
    Chris Murphy (D-CT)
    Jack Reed (D-RI)
    Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
    Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
    Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
    Patty Murray (D-WA)
    Brian Schatz (D-HI)
    Jon Tester (D-MT)
    Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Tom Udall (D-NM)

    And these Senators voted against the Merkley/Murray amendment:

    Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
    Roy Blunt (R-MO)
    John Boozman (R-AK)
    Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
    Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    Susan Collins (R-ME)
    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    John Hoeven (R-ND)
    Mark Kirk (R-IL)
    James Lankford (R-OK)
    Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Jerry Moran (R-KS)
    Richard C. Shelby (R-AL)

     

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 4, 2014

    pot_shopWith 56 of 58 precincts reporting, voters in Guam have approved a medical marijuana measure with over 56% of the vote.

    You can read the details of the measure here. When implemented, it would allow patients in Guam to obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana from their physician and purchase marijuana from approved dispensary locations.

    Stay tuned to NORML Blog for the latest on the 2014 Marijuana Midterm. Live coverage will begin this evening.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 30, 2012

    In early May, Ellen Rosenblum rode to a landslide victory in the Oregon Democratic Attorney General Primary with marijuana law reform being a central plank in her platform. It looks like it has happened again, this time in the Lone Star state.

    In the Democratic primary for the House seat representing El Paso, eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes faced an unexpected challenger in Beto O’Rourke, who formerly served on the El Paso city council. The race garnered media attention, largely focusing on O’Rourke’s support for marijuana legalization.

    O’Rourke had been vocal in his critique of the drug war, telling the Huffington Post in April that, “you have 10,000 people killed in the most brutal fashion in Ciudad Juarez in the last 10 years, without a single word from the congressman about what we can do to change the dynamic and stop the bloodshed.” He also stated that, “it is clear to me that what we’re doing is a failure.”

    During his second term on the city council, O’Rourke championed a resolution that urged the re-examination of the drug war and went on to author a book on the subject.

    Beto’s support of marijuana law reform became the focus of attacks from his opponent, Reyes, in the final days of the campaign. Reyes lambasted O’Rourke’s position as soft on crime stating that “my opponent seems to think that recreational use of marijuana is okay with him, and that’s the group he hangs around with — but it’s not for me, it’s not for my grandkids.”

    Reyes feared ending prohibition would lead to widespread use around schools and children. “I don’t want to live in a community where people think that it’s okay to light up a joint and parade around elementary schools and junior highs,” he said.

    Despite these attempts to turn O’Rourke’s rational support for the reform of marijuana policy into a political liability, the voters decided otherwise. Last night, O’Rourke claimed victory, with 50.4% of the vote. Silvestre Reyes, despite the advantage of holding the office for eight terms, only received 44.4%.

    Let’s hope this is just another in an ongoing wave of pro-reform candidates being elected into office, replacing those who employ tired drug war rhetoric to continue the costly failure that is cannabis prohibition. The people want it. If the politicians aren’t willing to take a stand and change the policy, it is time we start changing the politicians.