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America COMPETES Act

Bipartisan Senators Urge Congressional Leaders To Enact Marijuana Banking Legislation

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By Jelena Martinovic

About a quarter of voting members of the U.S. House have joined forces to urge congressional leaders to enact marijuana banking provisions into law as part of the large-scale manufacturing bill — America COMPETES Act.

The group of 24 senators from both sides of the aisle have lined up behind an idea that the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would “help cannabis-related businesses, support innovation, create jobs, and strengthen public safety in our communities.”

cannabis banking
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RELATED: Senate Under Pressure From All Sides To Pass Cannabis SAFE Banking Act — Will It Happen?

Once passed, the bill would allow banks and financial institutions to accept business from cannabis companies that comply with state regulations. It would also protect banks from being penalized under federal banking regulations.

The Letter

“The cannabis industry has become a powerful job creator and a significant generator of tax revenue,” the lawmakers, led by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), wrote in a letter to the congressional leaders. “However, financial institutions are often reluctant to transact with cannabis-related businesses, even in states that have some form of legalized cannabis, due to legal and regulatory risks arising from inconsistent federal and state laws. Allowing cannabis businesses operating legally and in compliance with state law to access financial services without federal reprisal would address public safety and compliance challenges, helping communities reduce cash-motivated crimes.”

The letter was also signed by Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Hickenlooper, (D-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

“Enacting the SAFE Banking Act via the jobs and competitiveness legislation before us would support a rapidly growing industry that creates jobs, fosters innovation, supports small businesses, and raises revenue in states that have chosen to legalize cannabis while reducing safety risks to industry employees and the public alike,” continued the letter.

marijuana banking
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Efforts Behind The SAFE Banking Act

So far, the SAFE Banking Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), has managed to pass the U.S. House six times in the last three years. The bill, which Rep. Perlmutter attached as an amendment to the America COMPETES Act earlier this year, still needs to pass the Senate.

RELATED: If Senate Democrats’ Idea Of Cannabis Reform Is SAFE Banking Act, They Should Give Up Now

Many cannabis industry experts agree that the bill has a better chance of passing than the MORE Act, which seeks to legalize cannabis on the federal level.

A the end of April, Perlmutter and Earl Blumenauer (D) sent a letter to a bicameral conference committee asking for the inclusion of marijuana banking reform in the final America COMPETES Act, which is going to be discussed by bicameral negotiators on Thursday.

Other officials followed suit. The bipartisan duo, Colorado Attorney General Philip Weiser (D) and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R), sent a separate letter to U.S. Senate leadership demanding the passage of the banking measure last month.

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Marijuana Legalization Attempts

In the meantime, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is working on a separate cannabis legalization measure. He recently postponed the filing of his comprehensive marijuana reform proposal from April to sometime before the August recess. Shortly after that, he confirmed the deadline again with a promise that he would respect the timeline.

chuck schumer
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“Make no mistake, I’m working diligently with my Senate colleagues to make sure that the federal government catches up. This bill will be comprehensive, and I promise we will introduce this important legislation before the August recess,” the Senate Majority Leader said last month at the National Cannabis Policy Summit.

Schumer and fellow Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden introduced the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA) outline in July 2021.

RELATED: Chuck Schumer’s Cannabis Legalization Bill: Back To The Drawing Board Until August

The proposal includes plans to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge prior weed convictions and allow people who are serving time for applicable crimes to petition for resentencing.

In addition, states would retain their rights to set their own marijuana policies and help those who’ve been criminalized over the cannabis plant.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.



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America COMPETES Act

These Congressmen Are Asking For Inclusion Of SAFE Banking In America COMPETES Act

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By Nicolás Jose Rodriguez

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act by a vote of 321-101 on 4/20. This was the fourth time the House passed a bill that seeks to protect banks servicing state-legal cannabis businesses from federal prosecution.

Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D) and Earl Blumenauer (D) sent a letter to a bicameral conference committee asking for the inclusion of marijuana banking reform in America COMPETES Act, a manufacturing and innovation bill that will be discussed by bicameral negotiators, reported Marijuana Moment.

marijuana banking
Photo by eldadcarin/Getty Images

RELATED: House Approves Marijuana Banking Bill, Attaches It To America COMPETES Act

“It is imperative that the final conference committee report of the America COMPETES Act include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in its entirety,” noted the Congressmen.

“As all levels of government continue to advance comprehensive cannabis reforms, addressing the irrational, unfair, and unsafe denial of banking services to state-legal cannabis businesses must be a top priority (…) The SAFE Banking Act is crucial for small operators, especially those owned and staffed by people of color and those who have already been punished during the War on Drugs,” they added.

“Urging my fellow conferees to include the SAFE Banking Act in the final COMPETES conference report. The federal government’s foolish cannabis prohibitions make small, often minority-owned, cannabis businesses vulnerable to crime. The solution: when #SAFEBanking becomes law,” Blumenauer tweeted Wednesday.

“Vulnerable communities cannot wait for the perfect solution for Congress to take substantial steps forward. The SAFE Banking Act is a critical piece of the reform our underserved communities and small businesses need. This legislation will make impactful progress in moving towards a fairer industry, especially for businesses led by lower-income community members and owners of color,” concluded the letter.

Why The Cannabis Industry Needs Congress To Pass the SAFE Banking Act

There are 36 states that have legalized cannabis for medical or adult recreational use. But it is not legal at the federal level. Meager guidance from regulators leaves banks dubious about whether they can safely bank cannabis businesses and other companies that provide them with products and services. This keeps most banks and credit unions from working with the industry.

RELATED: SAFE Act Just Got Re-Added To Defense Bill As Amendment, But Could It Pass On Its Own?

As a result, businesses, workers, and communities in several states must deal in piles of cash because of the conflicts between state and federal law. This creates logistical challenges and, for many, threats to safety. Businesses that house large sums of cash are obviously vulnerable to robberies.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and ha been reposted with permission.





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America COMPETES Act

Sixth Time The Charm? Marijuana Banking Bill Sponsor Optimistic About Senate Approval

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By Jelena Martinovic

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives formally attached a cannabis banking reform amendment to large-scale legislation dealing with innovation and manufacturing.

Following the approval of the amendment from sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) on a voice vote as part of an ‘en bloc group’ with other amendments, the chamber passed the package on Feb. 3 in a 262-168 vote.

cannabis money banking
Photo by mekcar/Getty Images

One Way Or Another

On the heels of its latest and sixth attempt to get the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act across the finish line, Perlmutter discussed some of the prospects of his proposal in an interview with Yahoo Finance on Friday.

While Senate leadership has pushed to pass comprehensive legalization first, the congressman is optimistic regarding his bipartisan incremental reform, Marijuana Moment writes.

“Every [House] Democrat and at least half the Republicans have supported SAFE Banking, and I am confident that the Senate will take it up,” Perlmutter said.

RELATED: House Approves Marijuana Banking Bill, Attaches It To America COMPETES Act

Commenting on  efforts of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his colleagues to legalize the plant and their prioritization of the broad legalization legislation, which they plan to officially file in April, he said that he’s “questioned whether they have the votes to get something of that magnitude through the Senate, which has not even had a hearing really on marijuana in 50 plus years.”

Nevertheless, Perlmutter, who is retiring at the end of the session, said that he intends to “keep working with the Senate, working with Schumer’s office, working with [Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ)] office working with [Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)], a Republican who is championing this bill in the Senate, and we’re going to get it across the finish line.

RELATED: Financial Regulator Calls Lack Of Banking Access In Cannabis A Serious Market Failure

“I am really pretty confident about it, whether it’s with the [the America COMPETES Act] or something else, we’re going to get it done,” Perlmutter continued.

How Cannabis Banking Bill Fares In Senate Will Dictate Future Of National Marijuana Reform
Photo by krisanapong detraphiphat/Getty Images

What’s Next?

Looking ahead, the congressmen said that the proposal might be further amended now that Democratic leadership is suggesting that it’s too narrow.

“They’re in support of it, but they just want to try to get some bigger pieces to it,” Perlmutter said. “If they can add research, if they can add some criminal justice reform, if they can add some taxation components, I’m all for it. But we need to get something passed and on to the president this year.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.



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