Representative Ed Perlmutter, who sponsored the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking (SAFE) legislation, has retired from Congress. The congressman recently filed the text of his banking measure as an amendment to a large-scale appropriations bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had worked with the congressman to draft the Safe PLUS package. However, opposition from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans made it hard for the amendments to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act.
Senator Cory Booker also assigned blame to McConnell, noting that his opposition to marijuana reform had influenced Republican members who would have otherwise been open to approving the spending bill containing SAFE banking language.
The recent amendment contained provisions to a pair of separate initiatives on gun rights for marijuana consumers and expungement of previous cannabis convictions. As one, the amendments made up a SAFE Plus compromise, which advocates expected would be included in the appropriations bill; the measure was still not approved.
It should be noted that the amendments comprised of virtually identical text to the corresponding standalone measures on each of these issues and did not include changes to the financial components as has been agreed upon by leaders in the Senate these last few weeks.
The congressman has in the past expressed his frustrations over the Senate’s failure to take up the SAFE Banking Act, even after it was approved by the House more than once. However, despite Perlmutter arguing that excluding marijuana reform from the appropriations bill was a glaring omission, he didn’t force a vote on the issue and instead noted that there wasn’t a lot of freedom to make big amendments and send the bill back to Senate, especially since preventing it from being enacted in short order could possibly cause a government shutdown.
The congressman then observed that senators played a game that ultimately allowed them to control what was included in the spending legislation.
Advocates are now looking to advance the reform next year, with Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown signaling that marijuana banking would likely be an issue next year. A staffer revealed recently that Brown was open to the cannabis banking bill being passed through the funding bill if it contained broader provisions.
For his part, Representative Patrick McHenry also stated that a decision on the issue would need to be made, noting that while he remained opposed to the bill, the door was open to its advancement if that was the will of his Republican counterparts.
In the next Congress, McHenry will serve as the House Financial Services committee chair.
The failure to pass legislation allowing cannabis banking is a setback for the industry, but the existence of alternative funding sources offered by companies such as REZYFi Inc. provide a stop gap to access funds for expansion and normal operations.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to REZYFi Inc. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/REZY
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