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Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, has reaffirmed his commitment to pursuing marijuana banking legislation that includes criminal justice provisions and described the broader endeavor to undo the damage caused by the drug war as a moral duty for Congress. Schumer reiterated his intent to pass the SAFE Banking Act, which had been refiled the day before by bipartisan members of the house and senate, during his speech on the House floor this week. He also promised to keep working on a more comprehensive package that supports industry equity and justice for those impacted by the drug war.
The measure, which has undergone minor revisions since the previous session, would shield banks from federal regulators’ sanctions when they cooperate with cannabis businesses that are legal in their state. This most recent revision further clarifies that the safe harbor is extended to CDFIs and MDIs that provide commercial loans to minority-owned enterprises; this is a new clause that proponents pushed for during the previous Congress. The new bill also enables cannabis workers to access mortgage loans backed by the federal government.
While Schumer acknowledged the need for a banking fix, he also stated that work will continue on the SAFE Plus package, which is anticipated to include provisions for gun rights and expungements for marijuana users.
Earlier this month, Sherrod Brown, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced that his panel will handle cannabis banking reform on its own and leave equity and criminal justice recommendations to other committees with appropriate jurisdiction.
To enact any kind of marijuana reform this session, lawmakers will likely need to concentrate on smaller-scale marijuana laws such as the banking bill rather than more comprehensive justice-centered legalization due to the divided Congress and GOP-controlled house.
However, a recent senate vote has prompted some to wonder whether any minimal cannabis reform is feasible given the current makeup of Congress. A procedural attempt to advance a bipartisan measure that would have simply called for investigations into the medical benefits of marijuana for veterans with PTSD and chronic pain was rejected by senate Republicans.
In recent years, the House has enacted the standalone SAFE Banking Act in various forms, generally with bipartisan support. However, it has come to a standstill in the senate despite having both Republican and Democratic leadership.
Advocates had assumed that the bill would begin in the Senate this time, but it seems that legislators chose to press for bicameral action instead.
Many of the challenges that marijuana companies face, such as lack of access to banking services, don’t impact enterprises such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) which follow federal rules guiding the way medicines are developed for human or animal use, even if those treatments include marijuana compounds including THC. As a result, the preclinical and clinical drug-development processes undertaken by such pharmaceutical companies often result in FDA approval once those drugs are found to be safe and efficacious.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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