This week, we cover a call for legalization laws in the Northeast United States, a poll showing approval for existing recreational cannabis programs, encouraging developments within Biden’s presidential campaign, and banking reform for cannabis companies in the second installation of the CARES Act.

Cannabis Industry Leaders Implore Governors To Legalize Cannabis For Economic Relief

On Thursday, a coalition of cannabis industry leaders sent letters to governors of the Northeast US. In the letters, the group advocated for cannabis legalization for the purpose of economic relief amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The group, known as the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB,) claims that a coordinated legalization strategy could provide these states with tax revenue.

As Coronavirus deals significant blows to economies across the US, many states are deciding to set aside legalization efforts. Such states are operating under the assumption that cannabis legalization is of lesser importance than their battle against COVID-19. 

According to Mark Gorman, executive vice president of NACB, such states could benefit from a shift in perspective. Rather than distracting from addressing Coronavirus, cannabis legalization could prove to be an invaluable tool in that process. 

“Legalizing cannabis sales and encouraging retailers to be proactive with strategies like home delivery and curbside pickup is not only a safe way to serve consumers, it will also generate millions of dollars in desperately needed tax revenues for their states,” Gorman said. 

NACB sent the letters to the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. 

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support For Recreational Legalization In States With Adult-Use Cannabis Programs

According to a poll by YouGov, citizens in states with recreational legalization are happy with their adult-use programs

YouGov asked more than 32,000 Americans in states with legal adult-use programs how they felt about the legislation. Answers to the question were “success only,” “more of a success,” “more of a failure,” “failure only,” or “don’t know.”

Of the nine states that provided data for the poll, only one state, Maine, had a majority of citizens call their legalization program “more of a failure,” or “failure only.”

Maine’s recreational cannabis program is still in its infancy. While medical cannabis has been legal since 1999, Maine has failed to finalize legislation following a vote to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016. This could play a significant factor in the citizenry’s disapproval of their recreational program.

In every other state, a majority of citizens expressed they were completely or mostly happy with their state’s cannabis policies. (These states included Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, and Massachusetts.) 

Several Members Of Biden-Sanders Criminal Justice Task Force Approve Of Cannabis Legalization

Last week, Joe Biden, the democratic presidential nominee, announced a new legislative plan to address a wide-ranging set of issues. Biden announced Bernie Sanders, his former opponent, would assist in establishing a group of task forces. 

These task forces will each approach a specific subset of issues and provide Biden with legislative recommendations. One such task force will focus on criminal justice reform, and it will likely affect Biden’s policies surrounding cannabis. When the plan to establish these task forces was first announced, cannabis advocates were hesitant to express optimism. 

While Biden has voiced approval of cannabis decriminalization, he has made it clear that he is averse to outright legalization. Also, Biden has a long and storied involvement with the US government disastrous war on drugs. 

Because of this, many are skeptical of Biden’s ability to embrace legalization, a popular goal of the democratic party. However, the selection of members for the criminal justice reform task force leaves room for hope. Of the eight members selected to serve on the task force, five have expressed support for cannabis legalization.

What’s more, five of these members were hand-picked by Biden himself. While this news falls short of providing any guarantees, it is a welcome development for those who approve federal legalization. 

Biden has been very vocal in striving for a “united democratic party,’ believing it to be key in defeating Trump. Considering the popularity of legalization among democratic lawmakers and voters, legalization may be a concession that Biden has to make. 

Cannabis Banking Reform Included In House Version Of Coronavirus Relief Bill

For years, cannabis companies have dealt with an issue unique to their industry. While the sale and purchase of cannabis are legal in several states, it remains federally illegal. As a result, cannabis companies have struggled significantly to utilize the services of federally-backed banks. 

Now, after years of calls for reform, the cannabis industry is a step closer to having the same rights as its counterparts. 

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a new Coronavirus relief bill. The bill is another in a series of federal legislative efforts to combat the toll of COVID-19.

Within the bill, known as CARES 2.0, lawmakers have included language allowing cannabis companies to utilize federal banks. 

The provision claims that allowing cannabis companies to utilize banks will reduce the number of cash transactions at dispensaries. Among the efforts taken by businesses in the US to combat Coronavirus, eliminating the use of cash has been frequent. 

The provision also notes the contradictory nature of designating dispensaries as “essential services” while refusing them baking access. 

Aside from their banking issues, cannabis companies are dealing with an inability to apply for federal Coronavirus relief loans. As of yet, there has been no indication that the federal government will budge on this issue. 

Now that the second version of the CARES Act has passed the house, it will face the Senate for revisement.

While Senate-leader Mitch McConnel ridiculed the inclusion of cannabis-related provisions, he has yet to express any intent to remove them. 

Coronavirus Updates In The United States

As COVID-19 continues its spread throughout the US, we will provide you with updates to keep you up to speed. We will continue to include these updates at the end of This Week In Weed until further notice.

Confirmed COVID-19 CASES In United States (As Of May 17, 2020): 1,526,816

Confirmed COVID-19 DEATHS In United States (As Of May 17, 2020): 90,973