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Only a few weeks after facing Republican opposition and being excluded from the fiscal year-end expenditure bill, Senate Democrats are reconsidering cannabis banking legislation. Senator Charles Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, met with a small group of Senate Democrats on Feb. 1, 2023, to discuss how they would plot out the bill in the next Congress despite what appears to be a likely stalemate with Republicans in control.
The proposed bill would enable banks to provide services to marijuana-related businesses in states where it is permitted.
Last year, Senators Cory Booker (N.J.) and Ron Wyden, who was unable to attend the most recent meeting due to a prior engagement, uncovered an exhaustive cannabis reform package. However, to win the support of the GOP, Schumer oversaw negotiations that resulted in an agreement called Safe Banking Plus.
Although the leaders are optimistic, they are aware that the road to getting the bill past the GOP-controlled House is difficult.
In December, Patrick McHenry, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, stated that while he opposes SAFE Banking, he would not obstruct the bill’s passage if Congress supported it unanimously. However, it doesn’t seem to be at the top of the House Republicans’ priority list.
Senators Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Steve Daines, who spearheaded the effort to have Safe Plus in either the omnibus spending or annual defense bills during the previous Congress, were conspicuously absent from the discussion this week. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate minority, slammed any door that might have allowed the bill to be attached to either of the two bills in the past.
It was intended for the SAFE Banking Plus legislation to be introduced alongside the Harnessing Opportunities Act, initiated by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and David Joyce (R-Ohio), which would have funded state expungement initiatives with grants.
Democrats are, however, divided over how to get SAFE Banking Plus signed into law by the president.
Senators who support the bill point out problems that have arisen as a result of cannabis businesses being excluded from the contemporary banking system, such as a recent wave of robbery attacks on dispensaries that have become easy targets because they are compelled to carry liquid cash.
“We’ll keep working on it until the end. There is a serious public safety concern here. People in my class don’t understand that, despite having legalized it through a vote, we can’t use banks,” Wyden said, slamming Republicans who frequently support states’ rights but disagree on a specific point.
As lawmakers ponder how to get cannabis banking enacted, innovative solutions like those provided by alternative financiers such as REZYFi Inc. will continue to be the lifeblood of entities looking to scale their operations or launch new products.
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