New York State’s legalization of marijuana in April 2021 represents a true victory for proponents of criminal justice reform, but the federal government’s attitudes towards cannabis are stuck in the outdated and harmful era of the failed Drug War of the 1970’s and 80’s. The U.S. government’s official position is that marijuana is just as harmful as heroin which is absurd. Not only does cannabis have proven medical benefits, but in Suffolk County the marijuana industry poses immense economic opportunity with the tax revenue it can generate and the many new jobs it would offer to Long Islanders. This is why I strongly support the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021.
This law provides the possibility for financial institutions, such as banks, to conduct business with cannabis enterprises that are licensed in states which allow cannabis for either recreational, medical use, or both.
The SAFE Banking Acts’ purpose is to remove the fear banks have of being penalized by federal authorities due to the illegality of cannabis at the federal level. Better aligning marijuana’s Federal Schedule I status with State and local governments legalized status will broaden commercial licenses and will foster job growth and tax revenue. An important corollary effect is the creation of a pathway to parole, probation, and expungements for those convicted of minor, marijuana-based offenses. In order to resolve these governmental conflicts, we must legalize Cannabis on the Federal level and decriminalize, full-stop.