byAdam Eckert, Benzinga Staff Writer
April 11, 2023 1:44 PM | 2 min read
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The U.S. is closer now than ever before to cannabis legalization as supporters continue to make progress on reform. Two cannabis advocates in Congress highlighted some of the recent traction, as well as their approach to rectifying cannabis legislation, Tuesday at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Miami Beach.
What To Know: U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) told the audience that he ran for Congress to restore faith in the government.
"I think this issue makes our federal government look like obscene hypocrites," Phillips said.
An overwhelming majority of Americans want to see legislation passed on cannabis and if the government can come together to make it happen, it will go a long way toward restoring faith, so Phillips is focused on doing just that, he said.
The Minnesota congressman wants to see cannabis prohibition reform and said all of the other steps toward these efforts don't really solve the problem.
"I think our efforts should be focused on descheduling, it has to start there. Everything else is a Band-Aid. SAFE Banking is a short-term Band-Aid on a problem that really requires surgery and surgery is descheduling," Phillips said.
But the SAFE Banking act, which aims to protect banks servicing state-legal cannabis businesses from federal prosecution, is at least a step in the right direction, he said.
U.S. Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA), who spoke alongside Phillips and introduced the CLIMB Act, which works with the SAFE Banking Act, said the problem is government leadership.
The Capital Lending and Investment for Marijuana Businesses (CLIMB) Act would allow state legal American cannabis companies, including small, minority and veteran-owned businesses, the ability to access lending and investment opportunities that are available in other regulated industries.
"It makes no sense at all that the barrier still exists from the banking side or from the capital access side," Carter said.
Both officials agreed that change starts with the people and urged constituents to make themselves heard.
"We are voices and we are blessed to have a seat at the table if you will, but we are nothing without the advocacy of the community. We're nothing without your resources as individuals, as stakeholders, as leaders in this space," Carter emphasized.
"This is a legitimate business. It's time we start treating it as such."