Gov. Polis Calls on Congress to Enact Banking & Tax Measures as Federal Government Looks to Legalize Cannabis

Friday, August 27, 2021

DENVER -  Governor Polis sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden urging Congress to immediately take up legislation to enact tax and banking measures for the marijuana industry as the U.S. government looks to legalize cannabis federally. Specifically, Governor Polis called on Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act that would allow financial institutions to serve cannabis businesses. 

Governor Polis sent his letter as part of Colorado’s comments to the federal government’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). 

“I am thrilled that you are bringing forward a long-term, comprehensive solution that deschedules cannabis while enhancing social equity pathways. I hope that you will first focus your efforts on the two biggest barriers to the success of the cannabis industry: banking and IRS Code Section 280E (280E). Legislation to address these issues has more bipartisan support than ever before and can be passed in the short-term as you continue to work on the details of the CAOA,” Governor Polis said in the letter. 

In his letter, Governor Polis also urged members of Congress to look to Colorado’s success in establishing a well-regulated and flourishing marijuana marketplace as the federal government considers legalization. 

“In 2020, legal cannabis generated $387 million in state tax revenue in Colorado, which funds education, health care, substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, law enforcement, research, and more. Establishing a national taxed and regulated legal cannabis system will allow the U.S. government to benefit from additional tax revenues, too, but it is critical that the tax level is not so cost prohibitive that it undermines the federal legal cannabis systems both already in place and being developed in emerging regulated cannabis states,” the letter reads. 

“While Congress needs to pass CAOA and deschedule cannabis, we do not want federal legislation to simply replace our carefully crafted state regulatory systems and accidentally destabilize state markets. As the CAOA draft evolves, I hope the bill sponsors will carefully consider how the implementation of a comprehensive federal cannabis regime will interplay with already successful state regimes,” the letter continues. 

Read Governor Polis’s letter to members of Congress.