SAFE Banking … Here’s the latest in horsetrading in DC

All we can say is kudos to MJ Biz for unravelling the latest political horsetrading on the issue.

If our podcast, The Karma Koala Podcast, is anything to go by the industry has almost tuned out to all the back and forth up on the Hill.

It’ll be done when it’s done but nobody is expecting it to be done in the adminstration so let’s just get on and do what we can do seems to be the general consensus at this stage of the proceedings


MJ Biz

With midterm elections around the corner and the U.S. Congress in a rush to clear up unfinished business, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is growing increasingly frustrated that Senate Democrats continue rejecting the SAFE Banking Act already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Moreover, the Senate has yet to hold a vote on the SAFE Banking Act – or any other marijuana reform proposal – that could pave the way for House-Senate negotiations.

The head of the Senate Banking Committee, meanwhile, says his hands are tied by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, even as the clock ticks toward November’s midterm elections.

In short, the cannabis banking bill appears to have hit yet another wall, and odds are long that it will reach President Joe Biden’s desk this year.

Still, some lawmakers are fighting to get it passed. And House lawmakers, in particular, are demanding action from their Senate counterparts.

“The frustration’s been there for a long time. They’ve got to figure out what it is they want and they can pass. Those two things aren’t necessarily the same thing, so they’ve just got to talk among themselves – Democrats and Republicans – over there,” U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Colorado Democrat, told MJBizDaily.

Perlmutter – the lead House sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act – is again leading his Democratic colleagues on a two-path solution:

  • He’s working to include the measure allowing cannabis businesses to access the U.S. banking system as an amendment to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House passed on Thursday. The reform would enable financial institutions to serve state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of punishment.
  • But Perlmutter is also waiting to see Schumer’s long promised – and perpetually delayed – marijuana reform bill, which is expected to include criminal justice elements, such as expunging past cannabis convictions. Some media reports suggest the bill could be introduced this week.

House members have been patient with Senate Democrats all year.

But they’re now increasing pressure on the upper chamber to pass anything marijuana-related so the two bodies can work out their differences in a formal conference committee.

“They’ve got a standalone bill in the (Senate) Banking Committee right now. That may end up being the center for a broader – but not as broad as what they’ve been talking about – bill,” Perlmutter continued.

He added that “the next step is to keep it on the NDAA.”

The House has now passed the SAFE Banking Act seven times – either as an amendment to a larger piece of legislation, or on its own.

The Senate Banking Committee currently has the stand-alone bill, which Perlmutter says senators must now act on.

“They can start amending things onto it … or they can start something new and send it back to us. But they’ve got to start moving,” Perlmutter said.

“They’ll have at least two vehicles to work with: the NDAA or the standalone (SAFE Banking Act) to see what they can get. Because I’m pretty sure in the House, whatever they can do, we certainly can do.”

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