Congress Could Try Again to Allow Cannabis Businesses to Get Banking Back in DC

EDITOR’S NOTE: NJ Cannabis Insider is hosting a one-day conference and networking event on September 15 at the Crowne Plaza Princeton, featuring many of the state’s influencers. Tickets are limited.

Two key measures federal lawmakers are expected to pass this month present two more chances to enact legislation that would allow federally chartered banks to offer checking accounts, credit cards and other financial services to legal cannabis businesses. .

Provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement, or SAFE, Banking Act, which has been repeatedly passed by the House, have been added to legislation establishing defense policy for the 12 months beginning Oct. 1.

And when the House in July approved a package of six spending bills to fund the federal government starting next month, lawmakers included a provision in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations measure to prevent the government to spend money to penalize banks providing services to legal services. cannabis companies.

“We have a critical window of opportunity between now and the end of the year to enact common sense cannabis reforms, starting with access to the banking system,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo. ., the main sponsor of SAFE Banking. “Continued inaction on this issue is dangerous and reckless, and continues to put communities, businesses, employees and patients at risk across the country.”

For Perlmutter, this may be his last chance to see his legislation enacted as he is not seeking re-election this fall.

Previous attempts to pass SAFE Banking have stalled in the US Senate under both Republican and Democratic scrutiny, and there is no indication that senators have changed their minds, although negotiations continue.

The House passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act in July. The version proposed by the Senate does not include SAFE Banking, and in previous years the provision did not survive negotiations between the two chambers.

Lawmakers must also pass spending legislation to keep government open past the end of the month. Congress is supposed to consider 12 separate spending bills, but in recent years many, if not all, of them have been rolled into one massive omnibus measure.

And invariably, this measure is not put in place until after the start of the new fiscal year, which means that Congress will have to pass an ongoing resolution to keep the lights on in Washington until it has finished its work.

This year, Congress is expected to rise early as a third of the Senate and the entire House are up for election, then return after Election Day for a lame duck session to complete its work.

“There are very few legislative days left in the House and Senate before the election break,” said Khadijah Tribble, the new executive director of the US Cannabis Council. “The most likely scenario at this point is that Congress will pass a continuing resolution in September and then consider a lame duck omnibus package.”

Morgan Fox, political director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said delaying the final passage of spending bills could give cannabis advocates more time to push for their provisions.

“It potentially gives us more opportunities and more time to incorporate additional measures into these bills,” he said.

These spending bills gave cannabis advocates an opportunity to influence government policy. For example, legislation that funds the Department of Justice prevents the agency from spending some of that money to enforce the federal marijuana ban in states that have legalized weed for medical purposes.

The House voted to expand the ban to also include states with legal recreational cannabis — and is expected to revisit the provision when the court spending bill hits the floor — but the Senate has so far refused. follow.

This package of six bills passed by the House also included the Military Construction and Veterans Expenditures Bill, which allows veterans working for legal cannabis businesses to obtain VA home loans and encourages more marijuana research.

On top of the effort to pass legislation is this: With Republicans favored to win back the House and possibly the Senate midterm, Congress next year could be much less cannabis-friendly. than the current one.

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Jonathan D. Salant can be attached to jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on @JDSalant.

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