The cannabis industry is pushing lawmakers to get a marijuana reform bill to President Biden’s desk before the November midterms, fearing that a Republican takeover of Congress could doom its chances.
In an in-person lobbying blitz last week, more than 20 chief executives of top cannabis companies urged lawmakers in both parties to pass the SAFE Banking Act, a bill to allow them to work with U.S. banks that the industry is confident will win enough GOP support to pass the Senate.
“There is certainly momentum building around trying to get something done this year in the Senate. On both the Republican and Democratic side we’re seeing consensus for SAFE Banking as being the piece of legislation that could pass,” Curaleaf CEO Joe Bayern said in an interview.
“We’re trying to be practical about how we get something passed this year,” he added. “We think the industry needs something to happen this year.”
The lobbying campaign comes as Democrats debate how to tackle marijuana reforms, with leading Senate Democrats pushing for a comprehensive bill to decriminalize recreational pot nationally and expunge past convictions.
Cannabis companies say they support those reforms, but stress that an all-encompassing decriminalization bill would not receive the 60 votes it needs to get through the evenly divided Senate.
“We want comprehensive reform, but we also recognize that with the potential for the House and Senate to change hands, we have an opportunity now to pass impactful legislation, and if we fail to do that, it could be years until we get something done,” said Jared Maloof, CEO of Ohio-based medical marijuana company Standard Wellness.
The SAFE Banking Act would enable legally operating cannabis firms to use banking services and credit cards. Because pot is still illegal at the federal level under current law, financial institutions could be hit with penalties for working with the companies and are thus reluctant to offer them loans or else typically charge them sky-high rates. Because dispensaries are forced to hold large amounts of cash, they’re prime targets for robberies and burglaries.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Karl Evers-Hillstrom on The Hill
Published: March 21, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News