Federal & State Updates: September 2021
  • Oct 04, 2021

Federal & State Updates: September 2021

Federal News

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.

Florida News

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.
Regulate Florida has also come forward with a constitutional amendment which seeks to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and notably, permit home cultivation of marijuana. Sunshine Cannabis whose owner is also a director of the Regulate Florida campaign, announced a $100,000 donation to the new campaign. Both initiatives will need nearly 223,000 signatures for Supreme Court review and about 900,000 signatures statewide to make the 2022 ballot by February 2022.

So... what's next?

Rather than repeating the same actions expecting a different result, the hope of WISE Florida is to reach previously unconvinced demographics to educate on the harms of Prohibition and benefits of legalization. The only leg the legislature finds itself left standing on when the reefer madness loses its fear factor is, "What about the children?" We're here to argue that exact point, and innumerable women and mothers are ready to join us in that message.
No-knock raids have injured and killed countless innocent children and parents, the War on Drugs is the most expensive and deadliest war the U.S. has ever waged, and Prohibition has ripped far too many families apart. In Tallahassee, pre-session meetings have begun to take place for the 2022 legislative session and we hope to create an impactful, unified voice in communicating to our elected officials that this is the will of the people while simultaneously educating voters who can join us in effecting change. While statewide economical devastation will surely be a major talking point of the COVID crisis in Florida and of upcoming political campaigns, this is a perfect time to introduce lawmakers and voters alike to the immense potential economic benefits of adult use legalization.
Please sign up for and keep an eye out for our newsletters as we'll be updating you on what we are doing in the community and what we as a village can do on a united front to help eradicate prohibition in Florida. In addition to writing to your U.S. Senators to implore them to pass the SMART Banking Act federally as well as signing the Florida petitions above, we hope you will follow our social media campaign, share our educational campaign, and take part in our call to action to unite in a statewide effort to end prohibition in Florida and nationwide!