Monday, May 27, 2024

Schumer Tosses A Little Hope Toward the Marijuana Industry

U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) give hope the beleaguered cannabis industry – again

Here we go again…U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee made a joint statement supporting the SAFE Banking Act. Good news is Senator Schumer tosses a little hope toward the marijuana industry.

Legalizing marijuana nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States in the next decade, according to some estimates.  It seems a much better idea than minting a trillion dollar coin.

RELATED: Consumers show industry potential in 4/20 marijuana sales

The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House on seven times but stalled in the Senate.  This has repeatedly given hope to the industry and hinted at where the concept of federal legalization stands.

The statement said “We were encouraged to see the SAFE Banking Act reintroduced last week after Senator Daines and Senator Merkley worked to make key improvements to the legislation. These improvements include the extension of the safe harbor to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) to ensure that small and minority-owned businesses can access the capital they need to start and maintain successful cannabis-related businesses, and giving people with income from legal cannabis business access to federally-backed mortgages.

“We look forward to watching this legislation progress through the Banking Committee and working with bipartisan partners to include additional improvements, such as the Harnessing by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, which would support states that want to expunge cannabis records with grants.”

RELATED: Is SAFE Banking Act Getting Closer To Passage? Senators Agree This Issue Is At Play

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is champion of the bill and her webpage gives a clear idea of what the bill does and who are the backers.

The SAFE Banking Act of 2023 would prevent federal banking regulators from:

  • Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging a bank from providing financial services to a legitimate state-sanctioned and regulated cannabis business, or an associated business (such as a lawyer or landlord providing services to a legal cannabis business);
  • Terminating or limiting a bank’s federal deposit insurance primarily because the bank is providing services to a state-sanctioned cannabis business or associated business;
  • Recommending or incentivizing a bank to halt or downgrade providing any kind of banking services to these businesses; or
  • Taking any action on a loan to an owner or operator of a cannabis-related business.

This legislation would also create a safe harbor from criminal prosecution and liability and asset forfeiture for banks and their officers and employees who provide financial services to legitimate, state-sanctioned cannabis businesses—while maintaining banks’ right to choose not to offer those services. The bill would also provide protections for hemp and hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) related businesses. This legislation, for the first time, explicitly extends the safe harbor to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) to ensure they can also serve cannabis businesses. CDFI and MDI serve underserved communities who face challenges in accessing capital and provide affordable access to financial services.

The SAFE Banking Act would require banks to comply with current Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance, while at the same time allowing FinCEN guidance to be streamlined over time as states and the federal government adapt to legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis policies.

The current legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Rand Paul (R-KY), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), MarkKelly (D-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Tester (D-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), and U.S. Representatives Warren Davidson (R-OH-08), Jim Himes (D-CT-04), Brian Mast (R-FL-21), Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-07), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR-05), and Lou Correa (D-CA-46).

Some cannabis stocks rose by double-digit percentages on the annoucement. The bipartisan nature of the SAFE Banking Act’s reintroduction again appeared to boost hopes of more relief to come in the industry.

After failing seven times, you wonder what Vegas places the odds on passing.



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