Federal Reserve Governor nominee Michelle Bowman today pledged to clarify to U.S. banks that hemp is now a legal product, amid confusion about whether banks can do business with the industry.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production and the sale of hemp products . But farmers and business owners from hemp-growing states are warning that financial services firms remain skittish about transactions tied to the crop.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) urged Bowman to take action on the issue at a Senate Banking Committee hearing today. Bowman told Tester that “we’ll try to clarify that hemp is not an illegal crop.”
“We would not discourage banks from banking these types of customers,” she said.
Separately, Tester last month wrote to the head of the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and pressed him to update the agency’s hemp policies.
“Let’s be proactive about it,” Tester said today. “We decriminalized it in the farm bill. This ain’t pot.” To view Bowmans comments, click here and go to 1:07 in the video.
Media Contact: Mike Mulvihill, 804-334-2292
RICHMOND (May 20, 2019) – The Cannabis Business Association of Virginia (CannaBizVA), representing cannabis growers, processors and retailers from across the Commonwealth, wants to dissolve the government-sanctioned oligopoly five licensees have on the state’s medical marijuana market to spur free enterprise and better meet growing consumer demand.
“The state created a framework for a medical cannabis supply chain in 2017 that is dramatically undersized and too geographically dispersed to suit the expanding number of Virginians now eligible to receive these treatments,” said Stephen Baril, legislative counsel for CannaBizVA (www.CannaBizVa.org). “Expansion would create more jobs, allow more businesses to enter the market, and, most importantly, provide greater access for patients.”
CannaBizVA filed a comment to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the Board of Pharmacy, which regulates Virginia’s medical cannabis industry, asking the Board to expand the supply chain beyond the five licenses currently allowed by law.
In the filing, CannaBizVA says the 2017 legislation passed to legalize medical CBD & THC-A oil allowed practitioners to issue “certifications” only to patients with intractable epilepsy. However, in 2018, legislation passed providing practitioners latitude to treat any diagnosed condition or disease determined by the practitioner to benefit from such use, which exponentially expanded the anticipated demand for CBD & THC-A oil treatments without a coinciding expansion of supply channels.
“While the original licensing paradigm of five ‘seed to sale,’ geographically bound licenses was developed to focus on supply chain security, it does not address the expanded need for patient access under a new, broad set of qualifying diagnoses or treatments,” said Chris Horton, president of the CannaBizVA.
According to the association, the current situation gives an oligopoly to a select few suppliers creating a bottleneck to patient access. While consumers may benefit from certain industries being regulated in this manner, it works to the detriment of consumers when free-market competition, proven to work in other medical cannabis states, is not allowed to meet demand for cannabis products.
“For example, a qualifying medical cannabis patient in Roanoke would be required to travel 1.5 hours to the licensed facility in Staunton or 2.5 hours to Bristol to receive his or her CBD or THC-A oil,” Horton said. “If you live in Danville, it would require a 2.5-hour drive to Staunton or Richmond and a 3.5-hour drive to Bristol or Portsmouth. This is particularly troubling when you consider these patients are dealing with any number of ailments, including chronic pain, anxiety, or intractable epilepsy, which can cause multiple seizures an hour. A free market approach that stimulates agricultural, processing and retail small businesses rather that favoring large cannabis companies from outside Virginia would greatly benefit the vast majority of Virginians seeking treatment as well as our local economies.”
Cannabis Business Association of Virginia
The mission of CannaBizVA (www.CannaBizVa.org) is to advance legislation, regulation and implementation that will support and grow Virginia’s regulated cannabis industries, which includes industrial hemp, hemp CBD and medical CBD/THC-A oils. It seeks to expand and promote existing pharmaceutical, retail and agricultural markets by representing the collective interests of farmers, pharmaceutical processors, retail vendors, ancillary businesses and other stakeholders. Through collaboration with state and local governments, the association will grow Virginia’s cannabis industries in a sustainable manner; foster a competitive, thriving marketplace; and encourage businesses throughout the Commonwealth to cultivate, manufacture, process and sell the finest products available.
CannaBizVA is represented by lobbyists Stephen Baril and Dylan Bishop of KVCF Solutions.