For U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman, the passing of the SAFE Banking Act says a lot more than merely where we are on banking; he believes that it is an indicator that we are well past the tipping point on ending cannabis prohibition. He notes that we are definitely not finished with cannabis reform, especially because so many members of Congress represent states that need such reforms. Huffman also believes that if he were representing a state in the Midwest, he would be focusing on states' rights and the medical applications of cannabis, as it's hard nowadays to argue about the importance of those aspects. Unfortunately, Huffman reminds us that Congress rarely gets ahead of public opinion, which is why Congress still has so much catching up to do regarding cannabis reform.
For U.S. Congressman Denver Riggleman, the SAFE Banking Act is about both freedom and controlling criminal activity; passing the bill was simply a matter of common sense. Although the bill isn't perfect, we should be welcoming of iterative change. When discussing the social justice element of cannabis reform, Riggleman brings attention to the Opportunity Zones Program from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 -- the program encourages long-term investments in low-income and rural communities across the country, and would be an effective means of catalyzing business. Riggleman suggests that this may be a better way to foster equality than the terms outlined in the MORE Act. Riggleman also discusses tax cuts vs. spending, NATO, jobs, and more.
U.S. Congresswoman Dina Titus discusses the passing of the SAFE Banking Act -- the first standalone cannabis bill to pass in the House while also being bipartisan. Titus believes that the topic of banking will appeal to Senate Republicans much better than issues of civil liberties or criminal justice would. Titus discusses some difficulties that initially came with pushing the SAFE Banking Act forward: "some people in the industry didn't want us to pass this because they said it might keep us from passing the big bill. Others of us said, 'No, we've got to have a win. We've got to get this. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.'" From here, Titus believes that we can move on to other types of cannabis legislation, such as taxing cannabis for grant programs, getting the VA to allow for medical cannabis prescriptions, and sponsoring more scientific research. Titus also discusses the benefits of a regulated market, the opioid crisis, and more.
Although U.S. Congressman Thomas Massie is typically against too much regulation, he is glad to see the SAFE Banking Act pass in the House, as it will help to undo other ineffective laws. Massie notes that the bill passed with the support of 91 Republicans, which is quite indicative of how far Congress has come as far as cannabis is concerned. Ideally, Massie would want the federal government to stay out of cannabis regulation and leave it all to the states to decide for themselves, which accounts for the Second Amendment Protection Act, a bill that he is cosponsoring. Although people often believe that getting a bill passed is all about cosponsors, Massie notes that there are many other factors involved, such as the speaker and the majority leader, the speaker in the House, and the majority leader in the Senate. Massie also discusses drug testing, the STATES Act, taxation, and more.
U.S. Congressman Darren Soto joins us to discuss the passing of bills, such as the SAFE Banking Act that just recently passed in the House. As well, Soto tells us about some environmental bills and bills related to disaster recovery that are in the works. Because Congress is so divided, it has been extremely difficult to improve certain laws -- while passing bills in the House is usually doable, passing them in the Senate is much more trying. Despite this frustrating process, Soto does, in fact, believe that the SAFE Banking Act has a good chance of making it through the Senate during this upcoming election year. Soto strongly believes that the lack of safe banking for cannabis businesses is actively hurting everyday Americans: "If we're trying to legalize and normalize this industry, making it all cash is the exact opposite of that." Additionally, Soto discusses the necessity of taking care of our veterans, which includes being able to prescribe them medical cannabis.
U.S. Congressman Dave Joyce discusses the STATES Act and how local economies would play out if cannabis reform were treated as a states' rights issue. Although the STATES Act is not a full solution, Joyce believes that it's very teed up to go, as it is compact and easy for people to understand. Joyce notes that, unfortunately, the Judiciary Committee is pretty backed up at the moment, but that the Moore Act is another bill that people are talking about in Congress, especially because it addresses the issue of expungement. "Moore Act, obviously, is fully fleshed. The trouble is the more flesh you put on that, the harder it's going to be to move that." Joyce talks about the complications and gray areas that come when discussing expungement, and how one must be very delicate when setting such important precedents.
U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu has been fighting for cannabis reform for many years; in fact, he was one of the authors of the ballot guide statement supporting cannabis legalization in California. Congressman Lieu believes that the U.S. should not spend a single cent more trying to eradicate cannabis: "My opinion is that the federal government should completely decriminalize cannabis, take it off the schedule controlled substances. It makes no sense for the federal government to spend any taxpayer dollars trying to prosecute cannabis related issues." Lieu reminds us that it is important to consider the practicalities that go into getting a bill passed and making it bipartisan; because of this, bills like the MORE Act and the STATES Act may not be completely perfect. Lieu also discusses expungement, data, safe banking, automation, and more.
Narbe Alexandrian, President and CEO of Canopy Rivers, discusses the ins and outs of the cannabis investment space. Alexandrian notes that, when a company goes public, there's a lot of pressure in terms of growth, and, unfortunately, a lot of companies simply can't meet those lofty goals. He believes that cannabis companies today should be focused on product market fit; because cannabis is treated as somewhat of a homogeneous product, investors tend to look for who has the right brand and distribution: "The difference between Coke, and Pepsi, and every other soft drink manufacturer out there, isn't that they have this secret recipe, or this secret can, or it pops when you pop the can, nothing like that. It's because of distribution." Alexandrian also discusses the future of hemp, the growing interest in biosynthetic cannabinoids, and the possibility of cannabis entering the pharmaceutical industry.