Revised SAFE Banking Act gains traction
The most recent version of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, the marijuana banking bill reintroduced last week, gains more support.
The newest version of SAFE Banking Act has been revised and the expectation is that it will first go to the Senate Banking Committee before potentially moving to the floor. The process has been delayed due to concerns that banking sector representatives are allegedly trying to use the bill to undermine broader regulations. Passing the bill this year will likely be more complicated under a divided Congress, with Republicans in control of the House. Nonetheless, advocates are confident that they have built a solid coalition of supporters that bodes well for its advancement.
The standalone proposal contains changes from the last version, including protections for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) that make commercial loans to minority-owned businesses. Another addition to the bill not included in prior versions provides marijuana industry workers access to federally backed mortgage loans.
Additionally, updates to the bill’s data collection and reporting requirements have been revised in a way that advocates say will provide more robust information about barriers to financial services and marijuana industry participation by minorities, women, veterans, and small businesses.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has reiterated his commitment to advancing the marijuana banking legislation calling the broader effort to repair the harms of the drug war a “moral responsibility” for Congress.
A vote in the Senate last week has raised questions about whether any modest cannabis reform is achievable under the current congressional makeup as Senate Republicans blocked a procedural motion to advance a bipartisan bill that would require studies into the medical potential of cannabis for military veterans with chronic pain and PTSD.
While advocates and industry stakeholders are focused on the SAFE Banking Act and are confident in its potential for advancement several hurdles exist.
The current objective is to get SAFE Banking Act through committee and onto the floor where more justice-focused amendments can be added.
There have been a number of cannabis reform proposals filed in recent weeks, Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have filed a bill to incentivize state and local marijuana expungements with a federal grant program.
Last month, Joyce and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) filed a measure designed to prepare the federal government for marijuana legalization, directing the attorney general to form a commission to study and make recommendations about regulating cannabis in a way similar to alcohol. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced legislation last month to protect the Second Amendment rights of people who use marijuana in legal states, allowing them to purchase and possess firearms that they are currently prohibited from having under federal law.
Last week lawmakers from both parties in both the House and Senate reintroduced legislation to provide a safe harbor to insurance companies that work with state-legal cannabis businesses.