Australia should follow in the footsteps of the US for cannabis legalisation.
Australia is slowly moving towards cannabis legalisation as more regions are approving the plant for legal use. However, much like in the United States of America, cannabis is still illegal at the federal level in Australia.
Most Australians support cannabis legalisation, but the country’s law is lagging behind other nations like Canada and America.
Support for cannabis legalisation in Australia
The country should once again follow in the footsteps of the USA as the nation is finally aligning federal and state cannabis law.
The U.S. federal government planning to legalise cannabis
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of advancing cannabis legalisation. The vote was intended to allow banks to provide financial services and products to cannabis companies in states where the plant is legal.
By a vote of 321-103, American lawmakers approved the bill. This bill is now heading to the Senate, and this has received unanimous support from Democrats. In addition, nearly half of all Republicans are also supporting the bill.
In the Senate however, the bill is facing uncertainty. Mike Crapo, Senate Banking Chairman, recently stated that he plans to take into account similar legislation soon in the coming months. However, it is not clear if the full Senate will vote in favor of such measures.
Some Republicans are hesitant to give the banks a green light to engage in cannabis-related business while it is still illegal according to federal law. Many Democrats have recently stated that they would consider broader legislation around the legalisation of cannabis or criminal justice reform instead of considering a targeted banking bill.
The bill presented by the U.S. House of Representatives directs federal lawmakers and bill regulators to outline various rules for how they supervise banking operations surrounding the cannabis industry.
Banks are telling lawmakers that they want transparency on whether they can do business with cannabis firms where the plant is legal at the state level, despite the fact that cannabis is considered illegal by the federal government.
The American Bankers Association sent a letter to lawmakers stating that their members will serve the financial requirements of their communities, including the communities that have voted for cannabis legalisation.
Thirty-three states in America have made cannabis legal in any form, for medicinal purposes or recreational use. However, the banking industry appears to be unwilling to do business with companies dealing in cannabis. This is because banks believe that their participation could mean they face legal issues at the federal level. The banking industry believes that taking deposits from the cannabis industry indirectly violates federal anti-money laundering laws. This interpretation could put their federal charters and federal payment systems at risk.
Due to the attitude of the banking industry, the cannabis industry is left with extremely limited financial options. They have to depend on very few small financial institutions or conduct business in cash, which limits their expansion.
Cannabis legalisation at the federal level could be the next step
Canberra will allow people to use and grow cannabis for personal use. The law is about to take effect in January 31, 2020. Though it might be locally legal, as in the U.S., the plant is still illegal at the federal level. This means federal laws could still cause problems for cannabis users as well as businesses in Canberra and the ACT.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Australia for more than three years. However, there is no movement suggesting that recreational cannabis will become legal in the country anytime soon. But considering people’s interest in cannabis legalisation, as the numbers in support of the plant are growing, we can expect that Australia may get inspired by the USA in the future.