The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 in favor of an amendment to the Financial Services (FS) spending bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), that would bar federal funds from being used to prohibit or penalize financial institutions that provide financial services to cannabis businesses in states where marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal purposes. Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin was among those voting in favor in a close vote.
Without banking services, cannabis providers in these states are forced to operate as cash-only businesses. The FS spending bill still needs to be passed into law before cannabis banking services would be legal where allowed by state law.
The Drug Policy Alliance reports that the FS spending bill adopted by the Appropriations Committee today also deletes the congressional ban passed earlier by House Republicans barring D.C. officials from legalizing and regulating marijuana sales. If the bill becomes law, D.C. could finally regulate marijuana
Previously, on June 11, Sen. Baldwin was among 22 voting in favor when the Appropriations Committee voted 22-8 to pass an amendment extending the ban on the DEA and Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws through fiscal year 2016.
And, on May 21, Sen. Baldwin, in another Appropriations Committee vote, was among a bipartisan majority voting 18-12 in favor of an amendment that would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from spending money to enforce a current policy that prohibits V.A. doctors from filling out medical marijuana recommendation forms in states where the drug is legal.
On May 13, U.S. Sen. Baldwin cosponsored S.683 – The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015. The CARERS Act was originally introduced on March 10 by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) with original cosponsors Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Here is a copy of today’s amendment:
Current Wisconsin legislation, AB224, sponsored by Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) would authorize dispensaries for both medical and recreational pot.