But Democrats are fighting Democrats over whether to focus on social justice issues or industry priorities like banking. Marijuana advocates are divided among themselves over whether to push for full legalization or settle for less far-reaching legislation. And many Republicans — some of whom are seeing the benefits of cannabis legalization in their home states — are still decidedly against any legalization on the national level, even for medicinal uses.
At the same time that Congress is in gridlock, there is growing national support for cannabis, which is illegal at the federal level but at least partially legal in 33 states. In addition, public opinion is shifting rapidly, with nearly two-thirds of Americans supporting legalization according to Gallup — double the level of support two decades ago. That’s led to a steadily growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who represent states with legal cannabis markets, making them more sympathetic toward legislation aimed at helping the burgeoning industry — which brought in roughly $10 billion in sales last year.
These conflicts between state and federal law have created a rash of problems for cannabis companies, including lack of access to banking services, sky-high federal tax rates and bewildering questions about exactly what business practices are legal.