On Monday, we reported that a key senate committee would soon schedule a hearing on marijuana banking. Now the Republican-controlled committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs has revealed that it will hold this hearing on Tuesday next week (July 23).
This announcement comes as yet another indicator that marijuana reform is gaining momentum at the highest levels of decision making in the country. The legislation to be discussed is geared at finding a solution to the challenges that marijuana businesses have been having regarding access to banking services.
A similar law, which was passed by a Congressional committee, now has almost half of the members of Congress as co-sponsors after 206 representatives signed on. The Senate companion bill so far has 32 senators signed on from a total of 100 senators in that chamber.
The senate hearing slated for Tuesday is titled “Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives.” Representatives of CUNA (Credit Unions National Association), Smart Approaches to Marijuana (a prohibitionist advocacy group) and Citywide Banks will testify during this hearing.
Jim Nussle, the CEO and president of CUNA remarked that his organization was willing and happy to work with senate leaders to find a solution to marijuana banking which is a public safety issue.
John Lord, the CEO of LivWell Enlightened Health (a marijuana retail chain) is also lined up to testify before the senate committee, as will Cannabis Trade Federation’s Neal Levine (who also testified before a sub-committee of Congress on how prohibition can be ended).
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), the main GOP cosponsor of the Senate cannabis banking bill has also been booked to appear before the committee during this hearing.
Support for marijuana banking has been growing steadily with pressure being mounted for action on this matter by the highest financial sector regulators in 25 states, a huge majority of state attorneys general, 20 state governors from both sides of the political divide, banking associations from 50 states across the country and the National Association of State Treasurers. All these groups want the STATES Banking Act to be passed by Congress.
While Chairman Crapo is personally opposed to marijuana, his scheduling of the senate committee’s hearing on this matter shows that he recognizes that matters of cannabis banking present serious public safety concerns that have to be addressed soon rather than later.
Consensus is also growing on the need to make broader reforms to marijuana policy beyond access to banking services. The clearest example of this was the Congressional subcommittee hearing last week at which all parties agreed on the need for reform although there were some disagreements on how that reform can be realized.
Industry watchers believe that the entire marijuana industry, including Geyser Brands Inc. (TSX.V: GYSR) and Earth Science Tech Inc. (OTCQB: ETST), is now encouraged to believe that federal marijuana reform may happen soon.
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