State of Play in Cannabis Banking Reform
- The demand for action on cannabis reform - specifically in respect to banking - is growing in support. In March, the House Financial Services Committee approved the the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, in a bipartisan vote of 45 to 15. The SAFE Act currently has 206 cosponsors (including 26 republicans)—nearly half of the chamber's membership.
- Support for cannabis banking reform grows among GOP senators. The GOP is more likely to support tackling cannabis through piece by piece legislation - as opposed to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s strategy - who supports removing cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act.
- Senate Minority Leader Schumer is going to re-introduce the Marjuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act all together, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level.
- The nod from the top Senate Democrat signals that a standalone banking reform bill without comprehensive cannabis reform may be less likely than his House colleagues are hoping for.
- As cannabis banking reform makes progress in the House, it would be basically impossible to see real change and progress if the senate minority leader is opposed to a cannabis banking reform package that does not include a full overall of cannabis status as a schedule c drug.
- Schumer is partnering with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who will introduce a House version. Further demonstrating that the highest ranking democrat in the senate wants to see cannabis reform achieved by fully rescheduling cannabis as opposed to possibly doing cannabis reform one piece at a time.
- The demand for federal cannabis banking reform is growing among politicians from both parties and industry leaders.
- The SAFE Act will is expected to be on the House floor within the next several weeks.
- Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) has declined to commit to bringing a Senate companion bill to the SAFE Act up in committee.
- Though the House is set to move the bill to a floor vote, keep an eye out for Senator Crapo’s appetite for bringing it’s companion bill for a vote in the senate.
- As the SAFE Act goes to the House floor, be on the lookout for Senator Schumer’s comments. As of now, Senator Schumer has not commented on his position on the SAFE Act.
Why It Matters:
- Cannabis reform is coming - there is no question about it - the question is how and when. If Senator Schumer believes the only way forward is a comprehensive overhaul, then many of the House’s efforts regarding banking reform may fail as House Democrats would need Senator Schumer’s support to move forward with banking reform.
- Cannabis reform is poised to be a 2020 issue with great political gain - and depending on how each party plays the politics - it has the potential to play into the favor of one party over there other - wielding strong influence over political state of affairs in 2020.
- 23 states allow citizen-initiated ballot initiatives, meaning in most states, the only way to reform marijuana laws is via the state legislature (long process as VT is the only state to have successfully reformed cannabis laws through the legislature) or waiting for federal reform.
- If some level of cannabis reform does not happen at the federal level prior to the 2020 election, expect to see a high democratic voter turnout in states with cannabis initiatives are on the ballot. President Trump and republican leadership, if they are smart, will look to take the wind out of the democrats sails, by passing some form of cannabis reform at the federal level, prior to the election.