Thursday, March 23, 2023

Don’t Hold Your Breath For Marijuana Banking In 2019

While it’s not unreasonable that we will see the Safe Banking Act sail through the House yet in 2019, it means nothing in the grand scheme of taking care of business. The Senate isn’t going to touch this bill with a ten foot pole.

It has been said that the passing of the SAFE Banking Act is the first step toward marijuana legalization in the United States. The idea is that by finally giving banks the freedom to do business with the cannabis industry without the risk of federal prosecution, a wealth of opportunity will open up for the cannabis trade and lead the nation down the road to more comprehensive reforms. But while there appears to be enough support in the House of Representatives to get this thing done, conceivably before the end of the year, everyone seems to forget that the Senate is still standing in the way. So, regardless of whether the bill makes it through the lower chamber in the coming months, chances are it is not going the distance in 2019. 

It was earlier last week that the head cheese of the American Bankers Association (ABA), Rob Nichols, predicted that the House would pass the SAFE Banking Act before the end of October. During an interview with a podcast called Engage, he said that his organization has been working Congressional members to drum up support for this legislation and it was definitely coming to a head soon. 

“This is legislation that already passed in the House Financial Services Committee early in this calendar year by a huge bipartisan margin, and this is something that I predict…as early as September—probably no later than October—will pass the full House of Representatives by a bipartisan majority, which is exciting,” he said. 

Photo by OlegMalyshev/Getty Images

Although Nichols did admit that there were some challenges when it comes to getting the SAFE Banking Bill pushed through the Senate, he did not, however, drive home just how dead this legislation is once it makes it to the upper chamber.  

Despite an impressive number of Republicans that have signed on as co-sponsors in the House, there still isn’t much of a chance the bill will pick up all the necessary support in the Senate that it needs to make it to the desk of President Donald Trump. You see, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellhasn’t gone anywhere, and he will destroy this legislation the second he gets a chance.

RELATED: What Will Congress Do With Cannabis Banking Following Initial Hearings?

The scenario might go something like this: The House will pass the SAFE Banking Bill soon, and the cannabis media will celebrate history in the making, as it will be the first time ever that concrete marijuana legislation makes it out of Congress. However, the victory will be short-lived once the bill is shipped to the Senate, where McConnell, the self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper” of Capitol Hill, will inevitably chunk it into the trash. 

Not only does McConnell call the shots with respect to the legislation that is discussed in the Senate, but he has also said time and time again that he is not interested in supporting any bill geared toward the legalization of marijuana. As far as we know, his attitude on the matter hasn’t changed.

We’re also going on an election year, one where McConnell stands to lose his seat for the first time since 1984, so he isn’t going to lend support to anything that serves to further the Democrat’s agenda. And that includes giving banks the right to do business with cannabis operations.  

RELATED: Meet The First Major Bank To Service The Canadian Marijuana Industry

“I would be shocked if Sen. McConnell wanted to spend a single second of floor time on weed,” one veteran lobbyist told Politico.

So while it is not unreasonable that we will see the Safe Banking Act sail through the House yet in 2019, it means nothing in the grand scheme of taking care of business. The Senate isn’t going to touch this bill with a ten foot pole. We don’t expect much will change until after the 2020 election. Let’s just hope the Democrats can take control over the Senate, which is possible, and McConnell gets dethroned as one of the most powerful lawmakers in the nation. Then and only then will marijuana legalization (or a banking bill) stand a fighting chance at happening in the United States.



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