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In January, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) convened a second meeting to discuss cannabis legislation for the 118th Congress. This time, he invited a group of Republican senators to strategize the next steps for drafting a bill that could pass. The first meet-up with Democratic colleagues occurred at the beginning of February.
In the recent meeting, the GOP leaders present included Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Steve Daines (R-MT). The aim of these meetings is to establish a mechanism through which legislators can reach a bipartisan agreement on marijuana reform bill goals in the current Republican-controlled Congress.
Cannabis supporters are hoping for cooperation on the SAFE Plus legislation, which the senate majority leader worked to promote in the last days of the previous session. The SAFE Plus bill was anticipated to include provisions for marijuana banking and expungements alongside other potential minor reforms.
The three Republican senators who took part in the meeting on Tuesday were all original signatories of the SAFE Banking Act from the previous Congress.
In the meantime, Sullivan and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) filed legislation last week to advance study into marijuana’s therapeutic potential for army veterans. The committee is scheduled to vote on that bill on Thursday.
Last year, Schumer and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a comprehensive cannabis legalization bill, but it failed to receive the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate due to insufficient support. As a grand bargain, Schumer oversaw bicameral and bipartisan negotiations on the SAFE Plus agreement. Schumer blamed some Republican senators for sidetracking the bipartisan proposals after attempts to include the reform in the comprehensive defense and spending bill failed.
On Booker’s part, he claimed that ongoing problems with cannabis banking caused by prohibition led to a “marijuana crisis,” and while he believes reform is still possible, he has emphasized the difficulties of the new political climate on Capitol Hill.
However, Booker has come under fire from some stakeholders in particular for how his stance on banking legislation has changed over time. At one point, the senator vowed to thwart any attempts to advance a standalone SAFE Banking Act without capital constituents but then later expressed interest in reaching an agreement. In a previous interview given in the wake of last year’s election, the senator expressed his concern that if Democrats failed to pass the cannabis bill during the lame-duck period, it might take a long time to do so.
President Joseph Biden has not clearly stated his take on cannabis banking, although he has stated that states should be free to determine their own marijuana laws without interference from the federal government. His government has also raised its profile in support of cannabis reform since the widespread pardoning of minor marijuana possession in October.
Chances are high that marijuana industry operators such as India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) will closely follow any developments on Capitol Hill pertaining to marijuana policy reform.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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