Lead by Colorado U.S. Representative Jared Polis, along with a unified coalition of bipartisan congressional support, three new bills to improve access and rights to both patients and businesses were introduced Wednesday.
The Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011 (H.R. 1984), authored by Polis, a Democrat from Boulder, amends the banking secrecy act and would give state-certified medical marijuana businesses full access to banking services as well as eliminate Federal investigations of all state-certified pot businesses. Congressmen Pete Stark (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) co-sponsored the bill giving it bipartisan support.
In a statement made in a press release on his website, Polis had this to say about his bill:
When a small business, such as a medical marijuana dispensary, can't access basic banking services they either have to become cash-only--and become targets of crime--or they'll end up out-of-business. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, and for businesses that have been state-approved, it is simply wrong for the federal government to intrude and threaten banks that are involved in legal transactions.
The Small Business Tax Equity Act (H.R. 1985), authored by Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) would create an exception to current Tax Code to allow businesses that are operating in accordance with state law to make tax deductions associated with the sale of medical marijuana. The bill garnered bipartisan support from and was co-sponsored by Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Paul, Frank and Polis.
Stark made this statement in a press release regarding the bill:
Our tax code undercuts legal medical marijuana dispensaries by preventing them from taking all the deductions allowed for other small businesses. While unfair to these small business owners, the tax code also punishes the patients who rely on them for safe and reliable access to medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor. The Small Business Tax Equity Act would correct these shortcomings.
And finally, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act (H.R. 2835), authored by Congressman Barney Frank, would make both patients and businesses immune from federal prosecution when acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws and reschedule pot to Schedule 3 under the Controlled Substances Act -- it's currently in Schedule 1. This bill received bipartisan co-sponsorship frm Stark, Polis and Rohrabacher
In a press release statement, Frank had this to say about his bill:
The time has come for the federal government to stop preempting states' medical marijuana laws. For the federal government to come in and supersede state law is a real mistake for those in pain for whom nothing else seems to work. This bill would block the federal prosecution of those patients who reside in those states that allow medical marijuana.
Republican Ron Paul voiced support as well in a press release:
It is time to get the federal government out of state criminal matters, so states can determine sensible drug policy for themselves. It is quite obvious the federal war on drugs is a disaster. Respect for states' rights means that different policies can be tried in different states and we can see which are the most successful. This legislation is a step in the right direction as it removes a major federal road block impeding businesses that states have determined should be allowed within their borders.