On September 23, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (the “NDAA ”) that included the provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (commonly known as the SAFE Banking Act) which aims to provide safe harbor and guidance to financial institutions that work with legal U.S. cannabis businesses. The SAFE Banking Act will next require passage by the U.S. Senate. Its passage would open up traditional bank financing for cannabis businesses, ultimately having a positive trickle-down effect for consumer prices.
There has also been some recent actions made under the Biden Administration that has spurred some hope of drug policy change. Notably, President Biden appointed known medical cannabis advocate Dr. Rahul Gupta as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Further, on July 14, 2021 United States Senators Cory Booker, Ron Wyden and Chuck Schumer, released a draft of their long awaited comprehensive cannabis reform legislation, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which would effectively decriminalize cannabis in the United States by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and which would empower states to implement their own cannabis laws. However, while we are hopeful that this will spur discussions related to decriminalization, strong Republican opposition makes it difficult for any assurances to be made regarding its passage.
Earlier this year, the Florida, Supreme Court shot down two adult use ballot initiatives that aimed to give Florida voters the ability to vote on adult use in the 2022 election, as well as the Florida Department of Health v Florigrown case. The Tampa based group Florigrown originally filed a lawsuit in 2017 challenging Florida's medical marijuana statute, specifically, the constitutionality of the state implemented cap on medical marijuana treatment center licenses and the required vertical integration element. Had Florigrown won their constitutional challenge, it could have resulted in a more open market with less barriers to entry and would have given future licensed holder the ability to specialize in just one aspect of the business.
Floridians for Freedom
, which simply states that Floridians over the age of 21 have a right to possess, use and cultivate cannabis, and which reserves to the state of Florida the right to “regulate its purchase and sale in the interest of health and safety,” is still seeking interested parties to sign the petition so that it can be considered for the 2022 election.