MESA, Ariz. - Marijuana is one step closer to being federally decriminalized. The U.S. House passed legislation on April 1, and now it heads to the Senate where it's expected to face steep opposition.
If it does pass, what would it mean for dispensaries in Arizona, since marijuana is already legal here? As we found out, it all comes down to the money.
A local dispensary owner says even with recreational marijuana legal in the state, they've been facing some challenges. Her hope is that this federal bill will help to change things for them.
"It's great.. it's about time is what I think," said Marie Saloum, owner of GreenPharms Dispensary in Mesa near U.S. 60 and Clearview Avenue.
Saloum says since recreational marijuana was legalized in Arizona, their sales have increased 25%. But because it is not legal federally, she has issues working with banks and isn't able to get a loan anywhere.
"There are only two banks that will work with us, and we have to jump through hoops every month with them so I can't wait 'till I can walk into any bank, just like any other business," she said.
Saloum adds that right now, she can't ship her products out of state. If the bill is signed into law, she says that could change.
"That's going to help us bring new brands in and expand Arizona's market more."
Many Democrats spoke in support of the bill, which would get rid of prior federal marijuana convictions, also imposing a 5% tax on marijuana. That money would go toward job training and substance abuse treatment.
"Decriminalizing means cops spend less time busting people for marijuana possession and more time preventing people from committing violent crimes. That's a better use of law enforcement," said Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen.
While Republicans argue marijuana is a "gateway drug," adding that this is not the time for lawmakers to be focusing on marijuana legislation.
"The main priority for Democrats this week isn't Ukraine, skyrocketing gasoline inflation or the border crisis, it's marijuana," said Oregon Rep. Cliff Bentz.
If the Senate passes the bill, it will go on to President Biden.
More marijuana headlines
- House passes bill to legalize marijuana at federal level, called MORE Act — what's next
- Senate unanimously passes marijuana research bill
- Arizona woman’s medical pot use while pregnant protected by law, court rules
Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news:
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 10 News app. It is FREE! Download for Apple iOS or Android.