5,000 State Legislators and Staff Visit Chicago – Some to Talk About Cannabis

Starting today, legislators and their staff from state governments throughout the U.S. are arriving in Chicago.  Over 5,000 of them.

It is part of the annual National Conference of State Legislatures (“NCSL”) Summit.  State legislators from California to Maine, Florida to Washington, Alaska and Hawaii will converge on the Windy City to share best practices, listen to Melinda Gates, attend late night parties hosted by corporations and lobbying firms, and probably eat as much deep dish pizza as they can find.

There are also exhibitors at the convention hall, including, seriously, the American Association for Nude Recreation (appropriately, my firm’s firewall blocked my viewing of this site for research purposes, so click the link at your own peril).

What does this have to do with cannabis?

There will be several formal and informal meetings and panels discussing issues in the industry, notably a NCSL panel on cannabis-industry banking:

Banking Services for Marijuana-related Businesses
Summary: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia now allow the recreational use of marijuana. Twenty-five states, the District of Columbia and Guam allow medical marijuana. Marijuana businesses are struggling to find banks and credit unions willing and able to work with them despite recent federal guidance for financial institutions. Colorado tried to create a cooperative and was denied approval for deposit insurance. Bills are pending in Congress that ease federal restrictions. Hear about efforts to help the industry move beyond the cash-only model.
Moderator: Diana Clay, House of Representatives, Arizona Legislature
Speaker: Don Childears, Colorado Bankers Association
Speaker: Senator Bill Coley, Ohio
Speaker: Taylor West, National Cannabis Industry Association, Colorado
Speaker: Representative Jennifer A. Williamson, Oregon
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Great to see speakers from critical states like Colorado and Oregon working to address this issue, as well as the venerable Taylor West from NCIA.
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I will also be speaking on a panel hosted by the Marijuana Policy Project, “Medical Cannabis in Illinois – A Virtual Tour.”
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It may not be as sexy as the 4-hour session titled, “The Mason’s Manual Commission Working Group on Internal Citations”, but it is comforting to see legislatures around the country taking the cannabis banking issue seriously.  The sooner we find a national solution to issues like institutional banking, the sooner we can reduce industry-related crime, avoid irrational interest rates from private lenders, and reinvest proceeds into the community and business expansion the way normal businesses do.

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