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Signs of Life for the SAFE Banking Act?


The SAFE Banking Act has languished in Congress since early 2017, a victim of deadlocks and political divisions, as well as political wrangling over general approaches to cannabis legalization. We last covered the SAFE Banking Act in Februarywhen it looked like 2022 would be the sixth year this bill would die.

Since, Bill shows new signs of lifealbeit for the most unfortunate reasons. As we covered, cannabis dispensaries are facing an epidemic of thefts from coast to coast. Lack of access to the traditional financial sector and the need to do business in cash make dispensaries a prime target. Persistent and growing security issues have put pressure on industry officials and policy makers at all levels to find a solution.

A bipartisan group of senators in Washington, D.C. now support passage of the Safe Banking Act, including in particular senators from the Pacific Northwest, including Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D- Ore.), and the two from Montana. Senators, Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.). Nine Republican senators are now co-sponsoring the legislation, approaching the ten Republican votes needed to overcome a would-be filibuster in a 50-50 Senate. The sudden shift in Republican support followed the wave of recreational and medical legalization or decriminalization in more than a dozen states since 2020, including a number of Republican strongholds, as well as support from the American Bankers Association and state banking associations, representing the financial sector. industry.

Ironically, the sudden surge in support for the SAFE Banking Act has overturned long-standing policy lines on the federal legalization of cannabis. Longtime advocates of legalization and restoration efforts to the impact of the war on drugs– such as overturning previous criminal convictions for cannabis-related offenses – now fear the law represents a giveaway to the financial sector that not only fails to address fairness issues, but undermines future reform efforts wider. For example, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), previously a co-sponsor of the legislation in 2018, pledged last year to “lay down” in the Senate chamber to prevent the legislation from passing without equity or criminal justice provisions.

The Banking Security Act also faces headwinds from a cramped legislative calendar in an election year, in which legislation that fails to pass before the August recess is generally considered dead. as DC’s attention turns to the upcoming November midterm elections. Proposals to include the law in broader legislation, such as the bipartisan-backed, trade-focused COMPETES Act, would also come up against traditional Republican aversion to unrelated additions in large legislative packages.

Nevertheless, the change of fortune for the SAFE Banking Act, which after five years might have enough support to have a realistic chance of being passed by this Congress or a future one, demonstrates the slow but steady progress of cannabis reform in the world. national scale. Hopefully, access to traditional financial institutions will come soon for the industry, both for business development and public safety.

For our previous coverage of this bill, see the following:



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