SAFE Banking Act Left Out of Defense Spending Bill

A bid to include the SAFE Banking Act in the mandatory defense spending bill failed, and proponents are seeking ways to pass legislation that would allow the legal cannabis industry access to banking services. Proponents of this measure want to include provisions of the banking bill, known as the Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, in the National Defense Appropriation Act (NDAA), the annual appropriations bill that funds the military. did. However, the latest version of the NDAA released on Tuesday did not include cannabis bank language.

Under the SAFE Banking Act, federal bank regulators are prohibited from penalizing banks that choose to serve cannabis companies operating under state law. Under current regulations, banks will be subject to penalties under federal money laundering and other laws that provide services to such businesses, leaving the cannabis industry to operate in a cash-heavy and dangerous environment. increase.

The bill was first introduced to the House in 2013 by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter from Colorado, and has reintroduced the bill in each subsequent congressional cycle. The bill has passed him seven times in the House since 2019, but each time the Senate has failed to bring the bill to a vote.

Another amendment, backed by proponents of cannabis policy reform that would give states support by expunging past marijuana-related convictions, also did not make it to the final version of the defense spending bill. Before the NDAA’s latest text was released on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in New York told reporters he was still working to pass a cannabis banking bill.

“It’s a top priority for me.” Schumer said“I want to do it. We will discuss the best way to solve it.”

Republicans hesitate to add SAFE to defense bill

But later in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky warned Democrats that they were looking to attach undefense-related amendments to the appropriations bill, including the SAFE Banking Act.

“Even now, Democrats in the House and Senate are sabotaging efforts to close out the NDAA by trying to stuff it with irrelevant items that have nothing to do with defense.” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “We’re talking about a grab bag of motley pet priorities – a phony, partisan system that allows illegal drugs and ‘reforms’ in name only that have already failed to pass the Senate. A year that makes the words more sympathetic. “

“If the Democrats want these controversial items so badly, it took them two years to move them across the floor. But no — we have more mid-level nominations, but the Democrats are half threatening to hold our military hostage on these unrelated issues. It continues.” Causing uncertainty and confusion for the brave soldiers who keep us safe. My colleague across the aisle needs to stop taking irrelevant hostages and put her bipartisan NDAA on the floor. “

what’s next?

The NDAA’s failure to include the SAFE Banking Act leaves no prospect of passing the Cannabis Banking Act before the current legislative session ends in two weeks. Morgan Fox, political director of the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform, a cannabis policy reform group, said the SAFE could be attached to the pending comprehensive appropriations bill or possibly approved as a separate law. said to have a nature.

“I’m glad we still have other options,” Fox said Wednesday. “Quite disappointing.”

“While there has been momentum and optimism about including SAFEs in the Defense Authorization Act, it has been known for some time that this will be difficult to achieve,” said cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP. Partner Sahar Ayinehsazian writes:by email to high times“The current focus is on the omnibus appropriations bill that Congress is currently negotiating. We believe there is still the possibility that SAFE will move through the omnibus bill during the session.”

The SAFE Banking Act is backed by a bipartisan coalition of legislators comprised primarily of representatives from states that have legalized medical marijuana or adult-use marijuana, as well as senators. The bill passed the House last year with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 321 to 110, with senators from both parties also supporting the bill.

A spokesperson for Republican Montana Senator Steve Daynes said Wednesday in an email that “senators are working hard to build consensus and we can enact SAFE Banking into law this year.” Stated.

Senator Jon Tester, a senior senator from Montana and a Democrat, also said, “I want this Congress to pass.”

The bank bill is also supported by about 20 governors in states that have liberalized their marijuana policies. He praised Mr Matter’s achievements and said he hoped the bill would be passed this year.

“Governor Polis has long advocated passage of the SAFE Banking Act to protect cannabis-related businesses, support minority-, women- and veteran-owned small business owners, create jobs, and create jobs for Colorado. strengthen public safety in our communities and state,” Cahill wrote in an email Tuesday. “By the end of the lame duck session, we expect to see the final passage of his decade-long effort.”

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