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Treasury Report: Growing Number of Banks File Paperwork To Provide Services To State-Licensed Cannabis Businesses

Washington, DC: Over 800 banks and credit unions have filed paperwork with the US government acknowledging their relationships with licensed cannabis businesses, according to quarterly data provided by the US Treasury Department.

The total is an uptick from last year’s figures. At that time, the agency identified 553 banks (about 11 percent of all US banks) and 202 credit unions (about 4 percent of all US credit unions) that were providing banking services to marijuana-related businesses.

Federal law discourages banks and other financial institutions from maintaining relationships with cannabis businesses because marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. On seven occasions, members of the US House of Representatives have passed legislation to explicitly permit banks and other institutions to engage in relationships with marijuana businesses without running afoul of federal law. However, members of the Senate have never advanced this language.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee are scheduled to hold a mark-up on a newly introduced version of this legislation, the SAFER Banking Act, on September 27th.

According to survey data compiled last year by Whitney Economics, over 70 percent of participating cannabis businesses say that the “lack of access to banking or investment capital” is their top challenge. By comparison, only 42 percent of respondents cited “state regulations” as the most significant burden facing the industry, and only 39 percent cited the “influence of the illicit market.”

Writing in a recent commentary for The Hill, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano opined, “No industry can operate safely, transparently or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions and it is self-evident that the players in this industry (smaller and minority-owned businesses in particular), and those consumers that are served by it, will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing.”

Survey: Nearly One in Five Pediatric Patients With Cerebral Palsy Acknowledge Using CBD Products Therapeutically

Palo Alto, CA: A significant minority of pediatric patients with cerebral palsy (CP) are using CBD supplements to mitigate disease symptoms, according to survey data published in the journal Orthopedics.

Stanford University researchers surveyed the caregivers of children with CP regarding their use of CBD products.

Seventeen percent of respondents acknowledged that their children consumed CBD. CBD products were most frequently administered to pediatric patients for purposes of alleviating spasticity, anxiety, and pain. The majority of respondents reported that their children experienced no adverse effects from CBD treatment.

“Caregivers perceive CBD as offering some benefits, particularly in the domains of emotional health, spasticity, and pain,” authors concluded. “CBD may serve as a useful adjunct for some children with CP, especially those with worse disease severity.”

Full text of the study, “Cannabidiol use patterns and efficacy for children who have cerebral palsy,” appears in Orthopedics.

Minnesota: Supreme Court Affirms That Marijuana Odor Is Insufficient Cause for Police To Search a Motor Vehicle

St. Paul, MN: The odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle is insufficient grounds to justify a warrantless police search, according to a ruling last week by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The majority affirmed a pair of lower court verdicts. Justices opined that the smell of cannabis alone is not probable cause of a crime because state law permits its possession and use in certain circumstances. (Minnesota lawmakers legalized medical cannabis in 2014 and approved the possession of certain hemp-derived intoxicating products in 2022. Lawmakers legalized the possession of adult-use marijuana products this year.)

The majority’s opinion stated: “The State essentially asks us to create a bright-line rule by holding that the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle, on its own, will always create the requisite probable cause to search a vehicle. Our precedent, however, shows that we have shied away from bright-line rules regarding probable cause and we have never held that the odor of marijuana (or any other substance), alone, is sufficient to create the requisite probable cause to search a vehicle. ... In the absence of any other evidence, ... the evidence of the medium-strength odor of marijuana, on its own, is insufficient to establish a fair probability that the search would yield evidence of criminally illegal drug-related contraband or conduct.”

The court’s decision is similar to recent rulings in other states, including Delaware and Pennsylvania. Lawmakers in certain states, such as Connecticut and Virginia, have recently enacted legislation explicitly forbidding police from executive motor vehicle searches based solely upon the scent of cannabis.

In Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that police cannot engage in the warrantless search of a person based solely upon the odor of marijuana. Separate legislation enacted in 2023 forbids police from initiating a stop or search of a motor vehicle based upon the odor of cannabis.

The case is State vs. Torgerson.

Kentucky: Police Arrested Hundreds of Thousands of People for Marijuana Violations Over Past Two Decades

Frankfort, KY: Over 300,000 Kentuckians have been charged with violating state marijuana laws since 2002, according to an analysis provided by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

Over 90 percent of those charged were accused of violating marijuana possession laws -- a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 45 days in jail and a criminal record. About 59 percent of those charged with violating state marijuana laws were convicted.

“All told, one out of 10 of the 3.1 million people charged with a crime in Kentucky in [this] time period (June 2002 to July 2022) faced cannabis charges,” the report’s authors wrote. “Kentucky should recognize the ongoing harms of an incarceration-based approach and begin moving toward a system that regulates and taxes cannabis use.”

“Even one marijuana possession arrest is one too many, much less over 300,000,” said Kentucky NORML Executive Director Matthew Bratcher. “These arrests and prosecutions disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of good, hard-working people, while simultaneously diverting police and prosecutorial resources away from the enforcement of serious criminal activity. It’s time to pivot away from these failed punitive policies of prohibition and embrace one of legalization, regulation, and education.”

Full text of the report is available from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

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