Most progressive measures in the United States have been pushed by Democratic lawmakers and supported by left-leaning voters. Democrats were almost entirely responsible for the wave of cannabis reform that has swept across the country, with most left-leaning states now allowing some kind of legal marijuana market. However, a recent survey has revealed that attitudes toward cannabis prohibition and legalization are also changing on the other side of the political divide.
The survey found that voters who identify as Republican support various cannabis reform measures, including legalizing the controversial plant, expunging certain cannabis-related offenses from people’s records and allowing states to determine their own marijuana policies. The survey was commissioned by the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR).
Survey results indicate that 76% of Republicans who responded said they supported noninterference by the federal government in state-legal cannabis markets, 56% supported expunging prior cannabis offenses in legal cannabis states, and 73% were in favor of treating cannabis businesses like other industries. These results came at a time when lawmakers are working feverishly to develop viable marijuana legislation before the end of the congressional calendar.
However, there is little likelihood of Congress passing federal marijuana reform before the session ends, and some stakeholders do not believe that Republicans support anything besides cannabis banking legislation. In the survey, 65% of Republicans said they supported measures that would finally allow cannabis businesses to access banking services.
Several prominent Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Cory Booker and Senator Ron Wyden, have vowed not to pass cannabis banking measures before comprehensive legalization.
Although the legislation would finally allow cannabis businesses to access cashless payments and capital, Schumer believes passing it first would place corporate interests over social equity. He recently unveiled a comprehensive federal cannabis bill that would legalize the plant at the federal level and expunge past nonviolent cannabis offenses from people’s records. On the other hand, proponents of cannabis legalization argue that lack of access to banking services is exposing the cannabis industry to security risks and limiting its access to capital.
Banking institutions have stayed away from the state-legal cannabis industry ever since its inception, forcing businesses in the sector to rely on cash-only transactions. Lawmakers included banking protections in a package of policy changes called SAFE Banking Plus in an effort to pass some kind of cannabis legislation before the current legislative session elapses. It has social-equity provisions as well as protections for banks that serve businesses in the cannabis sector.
If these reforms are finally passed into law, the operating environment for industry companies such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) will improve a great deal as a uniform federal law on marijuana comes into force.
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