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Lawmakers And Advocates React To Historic House Passage Of Marijuana Banking Bill

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The House passed a standalone marijuana reform bill for the first time ever on Wednesday, and the development has sparked widespread excitement among lawmakers and advocates.

Following the chamber’s 321-103 passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, lots of members of Congress shared their support on Twitter and in press releases. The bill was approved by all but one Democrat and garnered support from nearly half of the chamber’s Republicans.

Here’s how lawmakers and advocates are reacting to the bill’s passage.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), lead sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act: 

“Thousands of employees, businesses and communities across this country have been forced to deal in piles of cash because of the conflict between state and federal law. After six years of working on this bill, the SAFE Banking Act will go a long way in getting cash off our streets and providing certainty so financial institutions can work with cannabis businesses and employees. I appreciate the partnership of Reps. Heck, Stivers and Davidson and the input and support from several others including Chairwoman Waters for their help passing this bill in the House. I look forward to working with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Crapo, Ranking Member Brown, and the entire Senate as they take up this important issue.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): 

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): 

“As the SAFE Banking Act now heads to the Senate, we can and we must do more. With this legislation, we can both address the pressing need for cannabis businesses to access financial institutions and provide real restorative justice for those most harmed by the failed War on Drugs. It’s simply not enough as it stands without reinvestment in communities most hurt by the failed drug war and while people of color are left to languish in federal prisons for marijuana-related offenses. Low-income Americans and communities of color have been devastated by the War on Drugs – we should be repairing the damage inflicted on these communities. The end we seek is not just legalization or access to financial institutions, it’s justice.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA):

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): 

“The lack of access to banking services for marijuana businesses is a public safety issue in Colorado and across the country. This common-sense bill would allow our banking system to serve marijuana businesses the same way they serve any other legal places of business. I’m grateful to Congressman Perlmutter for his leadership in pushing this bill across the finish line. We will continue our efforts to move this bill in the Senate.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO):

“Today Congress began to take its head out of the sand and recognize that states are moving forward with their own cannabis policies and the federal government is holding them back. The conflicting federal and state marijuana laws make it difficult for legitimate businesses to use basic financial services, and this bipartisan legislation gets Washington out of the way and gives them the access they need to do business and pay taxes. Today’s historic action in the people’s House adds to the momentum the SAFE Banking Act gained following the Banking Committee’s hearing in July. The Senate should move forward with the SAFE Banking Act and deliver it to the President for his signature.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR):

“Forcing businesses to operate in cash is an invitation to crime, money laundering, and robbery. Whether you’re for or against legal cannabis, we can all agree that we want our communities to be safe from fraud and crime. Today we saw overwhelming support in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the SAFE Banking Act and get this common-sense fix into law. Now it’s time for the Senate to act. While we continue to work to address broader issues related to the harmful legacy of cannabis prohibition across the country, I am hopeful that we can get the SAFE Banking Act moving quickly through committee, to the Senate floor, and ultimately, to the President’s desk.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV):

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV):

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ):

“Not only will the SAFE Banking Act ensure that marijuana businesses operating legally are treated like any other legal small business when it comes to accessing essential banking products—including in New Jersey, which has taken bold steps to expand medical marijuana—I am pleased that the House-passed bill also includes key provisions of my CLAIM Act to allow these business owners to obtain insurance coverage so they can protect their property, employees and customers. I would urge the full Senate to pass this common sense legislation that levels the playing field in the banking space by ensuring more equal access to capital.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): 

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA): 

Rep. Don Young (R-AK):

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA): 

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA): 

“Today’s passage of the SAFE Banking Act is a major milestone. When we began this journey over six years ago, we knew that the changes in state laws around cannabis meant that the federal government would have to act to address public safety. Time kept passing, even as the bill did not, and that confirmed the need for this legislation. More and more states changed their laws with regard to marijuana, and the need to get cash off the streets kept growing.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL):

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR): 

“Today’s vote is historic. The House of Representatives took the most significant step thus far in addressing our outdated and out-of-touch federal cannabis laws. It never made any sense to deny state legal cannabis businesses access to banking services. It not only seriously disadvantaged these businesses, but it also was an open invitation to theft, tax evasion, and money laundering. Congressmen Perlmutter and Heck have fought tirelessly to bring their bill to the floor, and I applaud Chairwoman Waters and House leadership for their support. States have outpaced the federal government on this issue, and state-legal cannabis industries and their employees have suffered. There is much more to be done to end this senseless prohibition. This is just the beginning.”

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY): 

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN):

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR):

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT):

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN):

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME):

Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA):

Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL):

Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK):

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL): 

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM): 

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): 

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV): 

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): 

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL):

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI): 

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): 

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA): 

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): 

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA):

Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA):

Rep. David Joyce (R-OH): 

“The current federal approach to cannabis policy not only infringes on the rights of states to implement their own laws (as the vast majority have done), but also hurts legitimate businesses. Currently, cannabis companies are not afforded the same access to financial services as every other legal business in our country. With banks refusing to accept their money out of fear of federal forfeiture or regulatory retaliation, these businesses are forced to operate in all-cash ¾ pay their workers in cash, store cash in vaults on-site, hire armored trucks to transport cash to pay taxes ¾ which makes this a public safety issue.”

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA): 

Rep. Katerine Clark (D-MA):

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA):

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): 

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): 

“The SAFE Banking Act defends civil liberties. Passing this bill keeps the right perspective: No federal regulator should block Americans’ lawful access to the financial system. This principle holds true, whether you are talking about firearms or cannabis. I was an original cosponsor of this bill and welcome its passage. It is incumbent on the Senate to join the House and accomplish this important legislative task.”

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV):

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA):

Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA):

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV):

Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO): 

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI):

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA):

Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH): 

“Today is a step forward for a common-sense bill that will make communities across the country safer. For me this has nothing to do with the larger debate about marijuana, instead it’s about legislating for the world we live in, and that reality includes legal businesses being forced to assume the huge risks that come from operating exclusively in cash. I’m grateful that my colleagues, especially Representatives Perlmutter, Heck, and Davidson, have seen the importance of providing access to our banking system, and I look forward to the SAFE Banking Act passing the Senate and being signed into law.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR): 

Rep. Mark Amondei (R-NV): 

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D):

“This is an important step in building an accessible, inclusive and socially diverse industry that recognizes the past harms of marijuana prohibition and the disproportionate impact laws governing marijuana have had on communities of color. I commend all the members of the New York Congressional delegation who supported this bill for honoring the laws of the states that are working to safely and fairly legalize and regulate cannabis. It is now time for the Senate to recognize the importance of this emerging sector of our economy and pass the bill immediately.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D): 

Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D):

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (D):

Illinois Treasurer Michael Freichs (D):

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): 

“The SAFE Banking Act will make our communities safer, allow state and local governments to collect taxes more efficiently and transparently, and increase access to capital for small businesses. Today’s vote is a signal that Washington is beginning to catch up with the states and the fastest growing industry in our country.”

Law Enforcement Action Partnership: 

“Prohibiting banking access means hundreds of millions of dollars in legal marijuana markets are exchanged in cash rather than with credit or debit cards, which make them more difficult to track. Keeping tabs on those transactions is part of how police are able to catch serious criminals, but our ability to do that right now is limited. The longer we wait to fix this, the more vulnerable the industry becomes to infiltration by organized crime.”

American Bankers Association: 

“Today’s overwhelming, bipartisan House vote in support of the SAFE Banking Act is a significant step forward for public safety, transparency and common sense. By helping to provide clarity for the financial sector in those states where cannabis is legal, this bill will help banks meet the needs of their communities while reducing cash-motivated crimes, increasing the efficiency of tax collections and improving the cannabis industry’s financial accountability. It will also ensure that businesses with indirect ties to the cannabis industry—including vendors, utility companies and law firms—won’t be needlessly forced out of the financial system.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried: 

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Vanita Gupta: 

“The failed War on Drugs policies have disproportionately impacted communities of color – particularly African Americans, Latinos, and those who are economically vulnerable. These policies have contributed directly to mass incarceration. The SAFE Banking Act does not holistically repair the current harms posed by prohibition, nor does it invest in communities directly impacted by discriminatory criminalization. We urge the Senate to include provisions in its bill that will forge a more equitable path for communities that remain excluded from the booming marijuana industry. We thank Leader Hoyer and Chairs Nadler and Waters for their commitment to ensuring that the House takes up a comprehensive, broad, and bold approach to marijuana reform. We implore the Senate to follow their lead.”

Center for American Progress Senior Policy Analyst Maritza Perez: 

“Today’s vote may be a release valve for financial institutions, but it does nothing to relieve the decades of harm caused to communities of color affected by the drug war. Following today’s vote, we call on Congress to collectively turn its efforts to equitable marijuana legislation that should include removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and making way for the expungement and resentencing of marijuana convictions. Congress must also consider using marijuana tax revenue to bring services to communities most affected by the drug war, as well as grant programs supporting underrepresented business owners in the cannabis industry as modeled in the MORE Act. Congress has the opportunity to pass comprehensive marijuana legislation that leads with social justice and equity with the MORE Act. We urge Chairman Nadler and House leadership to promptly mark up the MORE Act and bring it to the floor for a vote.”

Veterans Cannabis Project Executive Director Doug Distaso:

“Today’s historic House passage of the SAFE Banking Act is an important first step toward eliminating the stigma around an industry that is providing essential medical treatment options for veterans. This legislation will ensure protections for veterans’ GI Bill benefits and allow them to seek well-paying jobs in a rapidly growing industry. I will be working diligently with my fellow veterans in the coming weeks to ensure the Senate understands the positive impact that cannabis has on veterans’ lives. As service members return with issues ranging from chronic pain to PTSD, many are finding cannabis is a treatment option that improves their quality of life and reduces their symptoms, without the negative side effects of opiates and other prescriptions.”

The Arcview Group CEO Troy Dayton:

“We are extremely encouraged by these cannabis reforms passed by the House. It would be a game changer for this developing industry and we are hopeful that the Senate follows suit. Legal cannabis businesses, which employ more than 165,000 people, would finally be able to operate safely, develop and grow their businesses. This step forward begins to pave the way for legal, regulated cannabis businesses to open up a plethora of opportunities, which were previously unavailable. The measure would also have a profound, positive impact on the investment landscape, patients and consumers. For years, Arcview has been working towards and supporting this moment. We applaud the progress taken by our regulators and industry and look forward to more reforms being fully enacted.”

Credit Union National Association President Jim Nussle: 

“Today’s landmark vote will help credit unions keep communities across the country safe and serve those state-legalized businesses previously left in the lurch. We offer our congratulations and appreciation to Representatives Perlmutter, Heck, Stivers, Davidson and others who have worked on this critical issue for so long. Our work is not done: We are ready to work in the Senate to advance legislation on this issue to the President’s desk.”

Independent Community Bankers of America President Rebeca Romero Rainey: 

“The conflict between state and federal law on cannabis-related businesses has created significant legal and compliance concerns for financial institutions that could provide needed banking services to these companies. This uncertainty has forced cannabis-related businesses to operate mostly in cash, which presents a significant public safety risk. The bipartisan SAFE Banking Act would help eliminate this risk in states where cannabis is already legal.”

House Approves Marijuana Banking Bill In Historic Vote

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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Marijuana Bill Up For House Vote Could ‘Reverse’ Federal-State Policy Gap, Congressional Research Service Says

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A bill to federally legalize marijuana that is scheduled for a House vote next week could “reverse” the current cannabis policy gap that exists between states and the federal government, a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report says.

In an analysis of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that was published on Wednesday, CRS described the various complications resulting from ongoing federal prohibition as more states opt to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes. The research agency said the legislation could inadvertently create a new schism where federal policy would be more progressive than those of certain states.

That’s because the bill does not require states to stop criminalizing cannabis, and so jurisdictions with prohibition still on the books could continue to punish people over marijuana even as such activity is legalized at the federal level.

“If the MORE Act became law, it could create a new divide between federal and state law—essentially the reverse of the current marijuana policy gap, since federal marijuana law would become less strict than some state laws,” CRS wrote. “The MORE Act could also highlight the inconsistency between marijuana laws in different U.S. jurisdictions by repealing the uniform federal prohibition and leaving in place a patchwork of varying state laws.”

The MORE Act, whose lead sponsor is Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions and impose a federal five percent tax on sales, revenue from which would be reinvested in communities most impacted by the drug war.

The legislation would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances due to its use.

“Congress may be content to allow states to experiment with varying approaches to marijuana regulation,” CRS said. “In the alternative, Congress might prefer a more uniform approach, whether that approach is to criminalize or decriminalize marijuana, or something in between. However, while Congress can pass legislation creating a uniform federal policy, there are limits to its ability to affect state law.”

The agency said that while lawmakers lack the “constitutional authority to alter state criminal law,” they could “preempt state law through Commerce Clause legislation” or “encourage states to change their laws through the use of the spending power.”

To that end, while the MORE Act does not create a federal regulatory structure for cannabis or force states to change their own laws, it does include provisions that incentivize the adoption certain local reform policies. For example, it offers federal funding for “eligible states” that take steps to expunge prior cannabis convictions and stop penalizing people on parole for marijuana-related offenses.

“Congress could also invoke its spending power to encourage states to regulate marijuana more stringently, and has previously used the spending power to shape drug policy in targeted ways,” CRS said.

These and other considerations will likely be the subject of significant debate when the House takes up the MORE Act next week.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced on Friday that the bill will be taken on the floor as soon as Wednesday.

He had previously said this summer that the chamber would vote on the legislation in September, but that plan was postponed following pushback from certain centrist Democrats who worried about the optics of advancing cannabis reform before passing another coronavirus relief package.

The bill cleared Nadler’s more than a year ago and has been awaiting floor action since.

Even if the far-reaching reform does pass in the Democratic-controlled chamber, as it’s expected to with some bipartisan support, it remains unlikely that the Senate will follow suit, at least during this Congress. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a champion of the hemp industry but staunchly opposes further marijuana reform.

Even so, a symbolic vote for legalization could send a strong signal to the incoming Biden administration. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the lead Senate sponsor of the MORE Act, but she’s indicated she will not necessarily proactively push the former vice president to evolve further on cannabis reform.

Given Biden’s former approach to championing punitive anti-drug legislation as a senator and his ongoing obstinance on marijuana legalization at a time when polls show that a clear majority of Americans favor the policy change, there remains some skepticism about his willingness to make good on his campaign promises to achieve more modest reforms he has endorsed, such as decriminalizing possession and expunging records.

A transition document the incoming Biden-Harris administration released this month left out mention of those cannabis pledges.

That said, the president-elect has conceded that his work on punitive anti-drug legislation during his time in Congress was a “mistake.”

For what it’s worth, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment in August that “the Biden administration and a Biden Department of Justice would be a constructive player” in advancing legalization.

CRS, in its new report, also discussed broader drug policy reform efforts taking place at the state level and locally, such as Oregon’s recent vote to decriminalize possession of all currently illicit drugs. The agency noted moves to decriminalize psychedelics specifically in Washington, D.C., too.

These “current trends suggest that there may be a broader movement toward decriminalizing controlled substances,” CRS said. “Comprehensively addressing such changes is outside the scope of the MORE Act, but Congress may wish to monitor developments in this area when considering future legislation.”

Mexico’s President Says Legal Marijuana Is About Freedom, As Legislation Advances In Congress

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Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill Will Get A Congressional Vote Next Week, Leader Announces

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A bill to federally legalize marijuana will receive a full floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives next week, a top Democratic leader in the chamber announced on Friday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the chamber will take up the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act some time between Wednesday and Friday. The floor schedule announcement comes weeks after the leader first confirmed that the House would advance the proposal before the year’s end.

Early in the week, the bill is first expected to go before the House Rules Committee, which prepares legislation for floor action and decides which amendments can be made in order for consideration by the full body.

Hoyer previously said that the chamber would vote on the legislation in September, but that plan was postponed following pushback from certain centrist Democrats who worried about the optics of advancing cannabis reform before passing another coronavirus relief package. Several moderates ended up losing their reelection races this month on the same dat that voters in several red states approved legalization measures, however, raising questions about their strategic thinking on the politics of marijuana.

“I’ve been working on this issue longer than any politician in America and can confidently say that the MORE Act is the most comprehensive federal cannabis reform legislation in U.S. history,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said in a press release. “Our vote to pass it next week will come after people in five very different states reaffirmed the strong bipartisan support to reform the failed cannabis prohibition. National support for federal cannabis legalization is at an all-time high and almost 99 percent of Americans will soon live in states with some form of legal cannabis.”

“Congress must capitalize on this momentum and do our part to end the failed policy of prohibition that has resulted in a long and shameful period of selective enforcement against communities of color,” he said.

The House approving the bill during the presidential transition could also raise the pressure on President-elect Joe Biden to embrace legalization—a policy he’s declined to adopt despite supermajority support among Democratic voters.

As currently written, the MORE Act, whose lead sponsor is Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions and impose a federal five percent tax on sales, revenue from which would be reinvested in communities most impacted by the drug war.

The legislation would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances due to its use.

All of those provisions are subject to change through amendments over the coming week.

“This floor vote represents the first congressional roll call ever on the question of ending federal marijuana criminalization,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal told Marijuana Moment. “By advancing the MORE Act, the House of Representatives sends an unmistakable signal that America is ready to close the book marijuana prohibition and end the senseless oppression and fear that this failed policy wreaks on otherwise law-abiding citizens.”

“Americans are ready to responsibly legalize and regulate marijuana, and this vote shows some lawmakers are finally listening,” he said.

The bill cleared Nadler’s more than a year ago and has been awaiting floor action since.

Even if the far-reaching reform does pass in the Democratic-controlled chamber, as it’s expected to with some bipartisan support, it remains unlikely that the Senate will follow suit, at least during this Congress. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a champion of the hemp industry but staunchly opposes further marijuana reform.

Even so, a symbolic vote for legalization could send a strong signal to the incoming Biden administration. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the lead Senate sponsor of the MORE Act, but she’s indicated she will not necessarily proactively push the former vice president to evolve further on cannabis reform.

Given Biden’s former approach to championing punitive anti-drug legislation as a senator and his ongoing obstinance on marijuana legalization at a time when polls show that a clear majority of Americans favor the policy change, there remains some skepticism about his willingness to make good on his campaign promises to achieve more modest reforms he has endorsed, such as decriminalizing possession and expunging records.

A transition document the incoming Biden-Harris administration released this month left out mention of those cannabis pledges.

That said, the president-elect has conceded that his work on punitive anti-drug legislation during his time in Congress was a “mistake.”

For what it’s worth, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment in August that “the Biden administration and a Biden Department of Justice would be a constructive player” in advancing legalization.

Marijuana Legalization Opponents Ask Courts To Overturn Voters’ Will In Several States

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Two-Track Effort To Allow Psychedelic Mushrooms In Washington State Launches Amid Broader Drug Decrim Push

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Drug reform advocates won big in Oregon this year, with separate ballot measures to decriminalize possession of all drugs and legalize psychedelic mushrooms for therapeutic use passing on Election Day. Now organizers are setting their sights on similar reforms next door in Washington State with two newly announced efforts.

One seeks to utilize existing administrative mechanisms to expand access to psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic use by patients in end-of-life care. The other, a proposed ballot initiative on track for 2022, would put Washington on par with Oregon, decriminalizing small-scale possession of all drugs and legalizing mushrooms for broader therapeutic use.

These efforts come after advocates already announced a separate plan to lobby lawmakers to pass a bill decriminalizing all drugs in 2021.

A healthcare professional is behind the first new psilocybin push via the administrative route. Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a Seattle physician who specializes in end-of-life care, is hoping to win permission from state and federal regulators to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms and use them to treat patients.

“We know that it’s a naturally occurring substance that we can cultivate safely, we know how to dose it, and there’s really good reason to believe it can help,” Aggarwal said of psilocybin, the main active ingredient in entheogenic mushrooms.

Aggarwal and his clinic, the Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute, hope to secure legal access to psilocybin for end-of-life patients under state and federal laws that allow patients with terminal diseases to try investigational medications that haven’t been generally approved.

In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the federal “Right to Try Act,” which would give certain patients access to drugs that have not yet been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for broad use. Psilocybin, along with marijuana and MDMA, appears to fit the criteria for the law, including having completed a phase 1 clinical trial and being under active development. Washington State adopted a similar law in 2017.

In September, Aggarwal applied to the Washington State Department of Health’s Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission for a license to grow psilocybin mushrooms with the eventual goal of using them to treat patients in palliative care. The state commission has yet to review the application, Kaiser Health News reported this week.

Aggarwal would also need to obtain approval from the federal government, namely the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “We’re still working on formulating an application to them,” he told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview, adding that his team is consulting with lawyers for guidance.

As for a timeline on the applications? “I wish I could tell you,” Aggarwal said. “There’s really no way to know. This has never been tried before that we’re aware of.”

Meanwhile, more sweeping statewide reform could come in the form of a 2022 ballot question. A top backer of both of Oregon’s successful drug-reform initiatives recently said Washington is the next state on his list.

David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s soap company, has long bankrolled drug reform campaigns. In Oregon last election, he gave $3.4 million to Measure 109, which legalized psilocybin for therapeutic use, and $1 million to Measure 110, which decriminalized all drugs.

Bronner recently told the Daily Beast that he’d like to see Washington voters pass both reforms—medical psilocybin and broader drug decriminalization—in a single initiative on the state’s 2022 ballot.

“It’s moving faster than I would’ve thought,” he said. “I would not have thought we’d be ready for the kind of reforms we’re seeing, and it’s gratifying. I just think we can go further in 2022 and 2024.”

Bronner added that he hopes to team up with other drug-reform funders, such as Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros, to maximize their policy impact. “If we all line up as one grand coalition, we can run twice as many ballot measures in a given cycle,” he told the Daily Beast. “We’re working hard on figuring that out.”

In the meantime, another group of activists in the state are continuing their push for drug decriminalization. Treatment First Washington hopes to see lawmakers take up a proposed decriminalization measure next year that closely resembles Oregon’s Measure 110.

The group originally planned to qualify the Washington measure for the 2020 election, but organizers stopped collecting signatures in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As with Oregon’s recently passed decriminalization measure, Treatment First Washington’s proposal would remove criminal penalties for drug possession, expand treatment for substance misuse and pay for that treatment with tax revenue from the state’s legal cannabis industry.

Aggarwal, the Seattle doctor applying to cultivate mushrooms, said that any of the reform efforts would likely help expand access for his patients.

“This effort would definitely be a lot easier if we had decriminalization,” he said, explaining that treatment could work similarly to how the clinic currently deals with marijuana.

“We kind of do this with cannabis in our office already,” he said. “People can do cannabis-assisted therapy sessions where they bring their own, and there’s a vaporizer and they can have a session with a decriminalized drug.”

Aggarwal said he filed the application because dying patients can’t wait for broader reform through the legislature or the ballot box.

“We just don’t have time to wait for that for patients who are sick now,” he said. “These are patients that really have exhausted legally available psychedelic-assisted therapy, which is ketamine, and I think there’s still a need for more… They need help now and not in 2022.”

Marijuana Legalization Opponents Ask Courts To Overturn Voters’ Will In Several States

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