safe banking killed in congress again
safe banking killed in congress again

The Marijuana Industry Gets Catfished, Again - Cannabis Banking Left Out of End of Year Spending Bill by Congress

The banana in the tailpipe happens over and over, and the cannabis industry falls for it everytime

Posted by:
HighChi on Friday Dec 23, 2022

marijuana industry fooled again

There were initially interesting signs on the horizon when it seemed like the Marijuana Banking Bill will soon see the light of day. However, recent developments have shown that there remains a long way to go before it can be a reality. Reports from the Senate suggest that the bill has been excluded from a large-scale spending bill expected to be released by Monday.  As has always said, marijuana will be Federally legal when Mitch McConnell and band of 8 friends says so.

Read on as we explain what this will mean for the cannabis industry heading into 2023 and what the way forward is.

The Cannabis SAFE Bill and its troubles with the Senate

The Secure and Far Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act has faced a number of obstacles recently and this is just the latest since the bill was introduced. The general belief of many in the industry is that the bill will be passed in the latest round of lame-duck session in the Senate but the present reality speaks otherwise. The proposal had initially tried to make it onto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier in December but couldn’t. The expectation of those in the industry then was that appropriations would be the next place to seek a haven for banks operating with state-legal cannabis companies.

The SAFE bill contains a fair deal of policies and proposals that will help to make banking with cannabis companies safe for financial institutions. Politico reports that the marijuana package included gun rights protections and expungement grants for those covered in it. This has since made it the centre of attention for many in the cannabis industry when it comes to policy reforms and laws in recent times. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been one of the front-liners in the push for passing the bill for cannabis banking reform but negotiations so far have failed to produce it.

The Senate sponsors of the bill are Steve Daines (R) from Montana and Jeff Merkley (D) from Oregon. They had pushed to see the recent version of the bill make the cut for the latest massive funding measure but unfortunately, it couldn’t make the cut. This comes after two other attempts have been made this year to see the measure passed along with a larger package.

Are Democrats doing enough for the SAFE Bill in the Senate?

Many expected that the reform will stroll through in the final weeks of the lame duck but recent reports have shown that this will not happen. The lack of this SAFE Banking Act according to Kyle Jaeger of Marijuana Moment is sure to leave supporters with limited legislative options to work with. This reality can also be seen as negligence on the part of the democratic leadership of the House. It has continued to show that marijuana reform legislation is not a priority of it’s which is why we have this present impasse on our hands.

Erik Alteri, executive director at NORML has stated that the failure of the Democrats and the resistance of the GOP is bad politics that is out of step with the opinion of the voters. The importance of this congressional action cannot be overemphasized as it holds the power to determine the fate of thousands. Many state-licensed marijuana businesses and their numerous employees are at the mercy of incessant robbery attacks because of the cash-heavy nature of the markets. It is therefore important that reforms are made to protect American citizens and their livelihoods from outdated federal laws.

The bill passed through the House last year with a historic 321 to 101 vote. The floor of the Senate however is where little consideration is being given to the bill thanks to Mitch McConnell. Despite having nine Republican cosponsors in the Senate, the Democrats would have required another GOP senator to clinch passage. However, it seemed the bigger problem at this time was trying to move it as part of a larger spending package. This made it a bit of a political hurdle that was too high to surmount. Senator Cynthia Lummis, one of the GOP co-sponsors believes that the bill would have been best served if it was considered on the Senate floor singularly.

Benefits of the SAFE Banking Act to the cannabis industry

The SAFE Banking Act was purported to shield banks and other depository institutions from the prying hands of federal regulators. Cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug federally which means that financial institutions dealing with cannabis businesses run the risk of penalties. Kadijah Tribble, the chief executive officer of the US Cannabis Council believes the failure of the Senate to enact SAFE is them missing out on a chance to pass legislation backed with bipartisan support.

The lack of SAFE Banking coverage has also made the cannabis industry hostile to investors. Many small entrepreneurs who are trying to enter the industry have found it too hard to surmount most times. This is because they will need to compete with larger businesses which are more established with well-capitalized interests. This has halted the decentralization efforts of many cannabis reform advocates and kept many out of the loop. These factors are some of the reasons why many are patiently waiting for the SAFE Banking Bill to be a reality. It is also the reason why the latest news of the delay comes as a big disappointment to most. 

Bottom line

It is obvious to the bind that the cannabis industry is deeply in need of the SAFE Banking Act to come alive. The livelihood and existence of many Americans and their businesses are hugely dependent on it. We can only hope that the sponsors in the Senate find the best way to ensure that the bill is passed in 2023. Till then, cannabis companies and their owners will have to find the best way to cope with existing conditions and make the best out of it as much as they can.





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