In recent news, Chuck Schumer has come out to let the people know he and his associates are working on a federal cannabis bill. To which he went on to say they have an “agreement” to not pass cannabis banking legislation until more comprehensive reform is passed.

With this, he’s willing to look into a different way of passing the banking legislation. But this would happen if legislators can include social equity provisions of legalization. For instance, things like expungements for prior marijuana convictions. This would be put—into another defense policy legislation that the chamber will be voting on soon.

Whether each bill would be welcomed by President Biden if they made it to his desk is yet to happen. However, Schumer did mention he is going lobbying him “heavily” on legalization.

Chuck Schumer delivered his latest comments in an interview on Drug Policy Alliance back on Thursday. Schumer stated there’s a mutual understanding between him, and his team on blocking any type of cannabis baking legislation. He feels cannabis baking should be passed until a social equity-focused legalization bill moves forward.

The conversation landed at the heart of a discussion that’s been ongoing between advocates and cannabis industry stakeholders.

Although, there’s bipartisan legislation called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act. The SAFE Act for short that does have a strong chance of passage in Congress. The SAFE Act has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives five times now. With the most recent passing of the measure as an amendment to a defense spending bill last week.

What Will Happen Next For The SAFE Act.

Now as well, there’s a draft bill to holistically end federal marijuana prohibition that Schumer is backing. So on the House side, the Judiciary Committee on Thursday is expected to approve a separate legalization measure from Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

“Why not let [banking reform] move forward while the long-term process of the legalization bill needs to work itself through?” Nadelmann asked.

“Senators Booker, Wyden and I have come to agreement that if we let [the banking bill] out, it’ll make it much harder and take longer to pass comprehensive reform,” Schumer replied. “We certainly want the provisions, similar to the SAFE Banking Act, in our bill. But to get more moderate people—to get some Republicans, to get the financial services industry—behind a comprehensive bill is the way to go. It’s the right thing to do.”

As the senator has once mentioned before he is opposed to passing marijuana banking reform first. Which was taken from an interview back in April. Furthermore, these latest remarks about an “agreement” to prevent the cannabis banking reform put the situation in starkest terms so far.

“All the pain that’s been suffered by so many people for so long will not be alleviated because banks can now do some funding of the growing and processing of marijuana,” he added. “We think that the quickest way to get it all done is to do it together. If you let just the banking provisions pass, it’ll make it much harder to get more Republicans and more conservatives on the bill.”

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Cannabis Banking Versus Federal Legalization

Essentially, if he made it clear was any doubt about the senators’ legislative focus for marijuana. The majority leader Chuck Schumer says a line has been drawn in the sand: Federal legalization needs to be passed first.

Now with that being said, Schumer did not say including some cannabis reform proposals into the Senate’s version of the NDAA was not allowed. Meaning other justice-focused provisions can be added as well. That legislation is where SAFE Banking sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmuttermanaged to attach his banking amendment in the House. Yet it requires many of the social equity requirements that advocates want to see.

Nadelmann asked the majority leader if it would make sense to add things such as expungements on top of banking to make it a more appealing deal.

“Look, everything should be explored, and if people in the Senate can add some things on, that would make it more of a palliative. But again, I don’t want to bargain against myself here,” Schumer replied. “We need comprehensive reform. That’s what we need.”

Schumer acknowledged that allowing enacting the SAFE Banking Act. would have some equity implications. To which it would enable
some disadvantaged communities to receive access to funds needed to join in the market.

However, he stressed that “water goes downhill,” and most of the benefits would go to “fat cat, more well-to-do people, so you’ve got to be really careful about that.”

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Final Thought On Chuck Schumer Blocking Cannabis Banking Legislation

“I’m not arguing against the specifics. I’m just telling you that it’s my view that, if we are in range of getting comprehensive reform and we’re making great progress,”. Schumer went on to say that the Senate should leverage that chance to establish a broad policy change.

“Remember, as majority leader, I can determine what’s put on the floor,” he added. “Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’d never put a legalization or decriminalization bill on the floor. I will when we get the votes and build the coalition, and the [SAFE Banking Act] will be part of that coalition.”

Nadelmann squeezed Schumer about an ongoing hesitation among certain members of his own party. This included Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Jon Tester, to encompass legalization.

Schumer responded by stressing that the proposal won’t pass “unless we get bipartisan support,”. Still, he also regarded that the legalization movement has expanded into states of all political parties. As well there’s a greater possibility that those once in opposition of cannabis reform could back reform this round.

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