Alibi V.28 No.20 • May 16-22, 2019 

Baked Goods

Bank on This

Support for SAFE Act on the rise

Baked Goods logo
Rob M.

I've been bringing up the subject of banking in the marijuana business sector a lot lately, because it's a subject that's generally been ignored for the last few years. That's despite the pressing threat to public safety that it clearly poses. Dispensaries and producers forced to do business exclusively in cash must find ways to safely store their earnings while avoiding becoming targets for criminals. The weirdness really rises when these companies go to pay their taxes. As Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada pointed out to a panel of Treasury officials in March, when a cannabis company overpays their taxes to the IRS, they are issued a Treasury check, arguably making the US Treasury a money launderer in cahoots with drug dealers.

Financial institutions are barred by federal law from knowingly working with criminal enterprises, and since cannabis is still federally illegal, working with dispensaries puts banks in an uncomfortable position. That is set to change if the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is passed on Capitol Hill, and it seems to be gathering steam.

In March, the House Financial Services Committee voted 45 to 15 to advance the bill. It is slated to be considered on the House floor in the coming weeks.

At the end of April, a group of state treasurers (including New Mexico's Tim Eichenberg) sent a letter to congressional leaders showing their support for the SAFE Act. In the letter, concerns about public safety are raised and the need for better government guidance is expressed. “Providing financial services to cannabis businesses allows law enforcement, and specifically the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the transparency needed to distinguish legal business transactions from illegal activity,” the treasurers wrote.

Last week the National Association of Attorneys General publicly announced their official support of the bill. In another letter to congressional leaders, the leading law officials of 38 states (including our own Attorney General Hector Balderas) wrote that public policy on the legal status of marijuana wasn't the issue being addressed by the bill and that “the reality of the situation requires federal rules that permit a sensible banking regime for legal businesses.

“To address these challenges, we request that Congress advance the SAFE Banking Act or similar legislation that would provide a safe harbor for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that has implemented laws and regulations that ensure accountability in the marijuana industry,” the attorneys general wrote.

Notably, both these letters point out that the SAFE Act is not an endorsement for legalizing marijuana in any form, and that politicizing the legislation would be detrimental to public health. This could go a long way in affecting how legislators respond to it as it advances.

Dems Try to Decriminalize Again

A bill to deschedule marijuana federally and encourage women and minorities to enter into the cannabis industry will be reintroduced this year by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Schumer and Jeffries released a video last week in which the two lawmakers discussed the reintroduction of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act. The legislation would remove cannabis from the federal list of scheduled substances and set aside funding for minority and women-owned cannabis businesses. It would also provide grants to help expunge the records of those who have been arrested in the past for minor marijuana convictions. The bill would still allow the federal government to prosecute cases in states where cannabis has not been legalized.

Strain Corner

In between cold snaps last week, I wandered into Sacred Garden (616 San Mateo Blvd. NE Ste. B) on a perfect day. It was bright and warm, and I was whistling despite a recent moratorium I'd placed on myself regarding the practice. (I was unaware until recently that people hate public whistling so much.) I even chatted up my budtender.

She talked me into buying a gram of Candy Rain (THC: 20-25%—$11/gram) by cracking open a jar and showing off the glittery trichomes coating the buds. It was some of the crustiest looking flower I've seen this side of Colorado, and it didn't take much to convince me.

The strain—listed as a 50/50 hybrid on the label—smelled tart and and pungent. The hits went down smooth and tasted sour. I thought the sativa side of this hybrid was far more dominant, noting the telltale jolt to the base of my skull after the second hit. I became enlivened, pacing a line between the kitchen and the living room while commenting endlessly on the reality show playing in the background and throwing toys for the dog to fetch. I was feeling incredibly stimulated by seemingly every point of interest in my apartment and ultimately ended up lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling (while continuing to make remarks about the show, mind you).

I was in a spectacular mood. I ended up ignoring all the other marijuana stashed around my place for the rest of the night and bent to the task of utterly destroying that gram. It was a piece of cake.

Candy Rain is (obviously) great for improving mood and inspiring creativity. It would probably be a beneficent strain to those suffering from depression or social anxiety. I didn't notice it having any effect on pain levels or physical tension.

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