Since the recent kerfuffle over a Whitefield hemp grower’s abandonment by its bank and insurer, much of the anger – from the grower and the public – has been misdirected at the bank and insurer. The real problem, as our public officials have correctly grasped, lies with our inept and sluggish federal government.
Congress has already legalized hemp – a harmless and useful crop – and federal agencies need to catch up with appropriate regulations and guidance for businesses like banks and insurers. At press time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture appears to be taking a step in this direction.
This issue highlights a similar problem with conflicts between federal and state law on marijuana.
It’s time for the federal government to puff or pass on this issue. Either it legalizes marijuana, leaves the decision to states, or enforces current law.
The current approach – banning the drug, but not enforcing the ban, but occasionally threatening to enforce the ban if the mood strikes – does no one any good.
It leaves the rapidly growing marijuana industry in limbo. Businesses – including those in our communities – must deal in cash, as banks refuse to work with them, fearing a federal crackdown.
When marijuana businesses turn to other businesses for non-marijuana goods and services, those businesses must proceed with caution if at all.
The federal government’s nonsensical position also stifles necessary research of marijuana – on everything from how it impacts brain development to how police should measure driving under the influence to whether the claims of marijuana’s medical benefits have merit.
If the federal government can’t or won’t make up its mind about marijuana, it should leave the decision-making to states and get out of the way.