At the beginning of the month, a new bill that protects banks and insurers in the state of Pennsylvania who choose to work with medical cannabis companies passed in a House vote.
Pro-legalization Gov. Tom Wolf (D) approved the measure sent to his desk by the Republican-controlled legislature, which mirrors a standalone bill that previously advanced before being attached to a separate measure.
As a standalone measure, the cannabis banking reform passed the Senate earlier this year, and it also cleared a House committee last month. But the chief sponsor, Sen. John DiSanto (R), then filed it as amendment to now-signed HB 311, which deals with authorizing certain financial institutions to conduct savings promotion programs.
The implementation of bills such as this one gives individual states an added layer of security while they wait for governmental action at the federal level.
In a vote on the newly proposed bill, a whopping 173 were in favor while just 27 were opposed.
This new legislation is just one more example of the desire for state governments to support financial institutions that have openly expressed interest in working with cannabis-related companies. While we continue to see nothing but pause at the federal level, state lawmakers are actively implementing solutions with the goal of protecting both banks and licensed cannabis sellers.
The proposed legislation was signed Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, who has openly expressed his support for the legalization of marijuana.
An Interim Step
It is worth mentioning that the newly proposed amendment (HB 311) will not immunize financial institutions from any and all potential punishment. Measures will still be in place to make sure that banks are running fairly and compliantly.
On the other hand, the amendment will serve as a statement to the financial sector that medical cannabis-related partnerships will not be frowned upon under state provisions. According to Marijuana Moment, “it represents an interim step” in the movement while anti-prohibitionist activists and leaders continue to work toward federal solutions.
The newly proposed legislation has been welcomed with open arms by those in Pennsylvania’s licensed cannabis sector. For businesses who qualify (licensed medical retailers), the amendment acts as an added layer of protection in the industry.
Whether we like it or not, the cannabis market is one mired in controversy. Often divided across political lines, it can be difficult for business owners to feel secure in their practice, especially in states where anti-prohibition is a relatively new concept.
While this may only be an “interim step,” it is a necessary one in providing medical marijuana businesses in Pennsylvania with a feeling of governmental solidarity.
The news out of Pennsylvania is positive for the cannabis market. The move will undoubtedly motivate more states in the country to implement similar policies.
Given that the federal government continues its reticent approach to cannabis legislation, states are being forced to take matters into their own hands to make sure their medical and/or recreational marijuana retailers feel protected.
The legislation coming out of Pennsylvania is a trend we will continue to see elsewhere if the federal government holds its stance.
While it’s easy to feel frustrated by the lack of federal action, it’s important to understand that moves forward such as this one are promising and remain valuable within the anti-prohibitionist movement.
The House vote doesn’t lie, and it’s becoming abundantly clear that lawmakers and people in positions of power are seeing the value of the cannabis market both in terms of the economy and social well-being. Leaders and Governors are openly expressing support, and valuable change is being seen.
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