Will The Cannabis Banking Bill Pass In 2021
A big push from those who are sponsoring a Senate bill to defend banks is pressing a key chairman to put the SAFE Act to a vote. The purpose of the cannabis banking bill is to allow financial institutions the ability to work with marijuana businesses. This would be done without the fear of dealing with federal regulators
Sherrod Brown who is the Senate Banking Committee Chairman received a letter this past week. Several key political figures urged a markup of their Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. To which they argued it would help address an urgent public safety issue.
“This is not simply a matter of banking. The inability of these state-legal entities to bank their significant cash reserves is an issue of public safety,”. This is what was written, citing cases of robberies and armed burglaries at dispensaries in both of their home states.
“We owe this to our constituents to hold a markup on this bill and further the legislative process,” the letter, which was also addressed to the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), continues. “To foster success rather than gridlock, we believe this markup on S. 910 is necessary and should focus on policies with robust bipartisan support.”
This letter came 12 weeks after the SAFE Act was reintroduced. Also, what’s important about the letter, is that the sponsors feel it’s essential to deliver their request in such a public fashion. possibly indicating that Brown has been unresponsive to conventional behind-the-scenes requests among colleagues.
The Next Step For Marijuana Banking In The United States
The chairman has made obvious he’s not keen to pass the legislation, saying in April that “I think we need to look at a number of things,” and that the body is “not ready to move on it.”
At one point Brown stated attach the marijuana banking bill to sentencing reform. Yet he’s since shown that he’s not exactly connected to that approach.
He also revealed that he’s in discussions with Senate leadership. This is in regards to possibly consolidating the banking reform into a broader marijuana legalization proposal. Which is currently in the works of being drafted.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who is supporting that future cannabis bill has shed some insight. Schumer stated he doesn’t feel the chamber should pass the SAFE Banking Act. Especially not before advancing something that pushes for social equity.
“I’ve always been of the view that while certainly, we have to deal with the banking and financial issues that we should do them together with legalization because the [SAFE Banking Act] brings in some people who might not normally support legalization, and we want to get as broad a coalition as possible,” Schumer mentioned in an interview back in April.
Political Views On Cannabis Banking
Over in the U.S. House of Representatives, legislators already approved their version of the banking bill. Which took place back in April. This made for the fourth time that the cannabis banking bill has cleared that chamber in some manner.
Furthermore, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has already refiled his marijuana legalization bill. Which is known as The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act. Cannabis supporters are fighting for a vote on that bill this month. However, some are hoping for a series of key amendments to improve its social equity elements.
Currently, the banking legislation has 38 cosponsors in the Senate. This is in addition to lead sponsor Merkley. This practically means more than a third of the chamber is as of now formally signed on. The legislation would secure that financial institutions could work with cannabis businesses without risking federal punishments.
The threat of penalties has kept many financial institutes and credit unions from working with the cannabis industry. This has put marijuana companies in a submissive spot to operate on a cash basis. Operating in only cash can make them victims of crime. As well it can form difficulties for financial regulators.
Final Thoughts On SAFE Act Passing In 2021
During the last congress, the bill cleared the House. This is where advocates and stakeholders paid close attention to any movement out of the Senate Banking Committee. Furthermore, a hearing was not conducted by Chairman Mike Crapo even with talks of negotiations taking place regarding certain provisions.
Crapo stated he is against the reform proposal. Yet he did indicate that he might be more responsive if it included certain stipulations viewed as untenable to the industry. Which included a two percent THC potency cap on products. Which was implied for cannabis businesses to qualify to obtain financial services. As well as preventing banking services for operators that sell high-potency vaping devices or edibles that could attract children.
When legislative leaders announced that the SAFE Banking Act was getting a House vote in 2019, there was pushback from some advocates who felt that Congress should have prioritized comprehensive reform to legalize marijuana and promote social equity, rather than start with a measure viewed as primarily friendly to industry interests.
Co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus Rep Ealt Blumenauer said in March that the plan is to pass the banking reform first this session. He stated it “is a public safety crisis now,” and it’s “distinct—as we’ve heard from some of my colleagues—distinct from how they feel about comprehensive reform.”
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