The chairman of a key Senate committee has revealed that he discussed the possibility of advancing bipartisan cannabis banking legislation within the next six weeks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. During a recent interview with Punchbowl News, Senate Banking Committee chair Sherrod Brown said that he talked to Schumer about moving the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act alongside several other major bills within the next one and a half months.
Cannabis banking has been a contentious issue since states began legalizing medical and recreational cannabis in the United States nearly two decades ago. Although dozens of states now have legal cannabis programs, federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no medical application. As a result of federal prohibition, licensed cannabis operators find it nigh impossible to access critical financial services such as banking, cashless payments, capital and financial aid.
This forces cannabis businesses to operate on a mostly cash-only basis and puts these businesses at significant risk of violent robberies, something that has been occurring in recent months with increasing frequency. The SAFE Banking Act was introduced to address the lack of access to financial services in America’s multibillion-dollar cannabis industry.
In a recent floor speech and in a letter to fellow lawmakers, Schumer said providing the cannabis industry with access to banking is a priority. He noted that although “making progress on cannabis” via banking legislation was a legislative priority, the legislation wouldn’t progress on the Senate floor without bipartisan support on cannabis reform and related issues, including capping insulin prices and competing with China on the global scale. Additionally, spending legislation will take up a lot of the Senators’ time in the next few weeks, likely reducing the time they have to discuss cannabis banking.
One key section of the SAFE Banking Act (Section 10) has also been subject to intense debate among lawmakers in recent months and even prevented the measure from passing during the summer legislative session.
In late July, Schumer said lawmakers having bipartisan negotiations over the SAFE Banking Act were “making good progress.” The Senate Majority leader reportedly told a lobbyist at the time that Senate lawmakers were working on cannabis banking. He had previously stated that he wished to address marijuana banking reform during the summer session but constant debate over sections of the cannabis banking bill have kept the measure from advancing until the end of the session.
The marijuana industry and its leading entities such as Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) have heard such promises before and are unlikely to get too excited by these new pronouncements until actual banking reform is enacted at the federal level.
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