As we reported final week, a Senate Banking Committee listening to occurred this previous Tuesday to think about the SAFE Banking Act. In brief, the listening to didn’t show as a lot GOP sway or assist as we had been hoping for.
For one, not one of the Republican committee members attended the listening to except for Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) (which he attributed to conflicting hearings). For one more, whereas Chairman Crapo did conclude that “a case has been made fairly strongly right here,” he cautioned that it’s nonetheless a “essential and complicated concern that we have to get proper.”
Regardless of Chairman Crapo’s lengthy faces at instances, varied witnesses made their circumstances to the Committee in the course of the 1.5-hour listening to. These witnesses included SAFE Banking Act sponsors Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR); MAPS Credit score Union Chief Threat Officer, Rachel Pross (representing CUNA), Citywide Banks’ President and CEO, Joanne Sherwood (representing ABA); Good Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Vice President of Authorities Affairs, Garth Van Meter; and LivWell Enlightened Well being CEO, John Lord.
Senator Gardner referred to as the listening to “an vital step towards the federal authorities waking as much as the fact that the cannabis concern just isn’t going away and desires motion.” He cited that polling now reveals about 65% of Individuals assist legalization of marijuana and 93% assist medical marijuana. Senator Gardner emphasised that the states are main on this concern, “and the federal authorities has failed to reply.”
It has closed its eyes and plugged its ears and pretended the difficulty will go away. It received’t.”
Ms. Pross testified: “There are there are definitely legitimate considerations being dropped at this committee listening to right now. However the SAFE Banking Act is narrowly focused,” she mentioned. “It’s a narrowly focused safety for monetary establishments to serve an $8.Three billion trade that’s already in place right now.”
Mr. Lord supplied perspective on the numerous compliance prices related to serving cannabis prospects beneath the current regime, citing that these monetary establishments who service cannabis companies cost them substantial month-to-month charges.
Our firm pays in extra of $3,000 per thirty days for the mere privilege of getting an account. … The present state of affairs is very difficult for small companies. Whereas we, as a consequence of our dimension, are capable of soak up the extra prices related to money administration and exorbitant financial institution charges, many small companies should not.”
On the other finish of the spectrum, Mr. Van Meter testified that prioritizing marijuana banking “over science” that verifies the dangers of marijuana consumption can be irresponsible.
By skipping forward to a technicality over banking guidelines, the marijuana trade is hoping to realize most of the advantages of federal legalization with out a debate over the general public well being results. However make no mistake, a coverage change round banking would have huge public coverage and public well being ramifications, so we’re shirking our duties if we don’t think about the complete query. The SAFE Banking Act will enable the enlargement of an trade pushing new, exponentially extra highly effective types of marijuana earlier than any of its well being or different societal impacts are absolutely understood. Right this moment’s marijuana is produced in concentrations which have damaging results on the mind, are promoted by the trade, and offered in kinds engaging to kids.”
In response to questions following the listening to, Chairman Crapo commented that the Committee is “making an attempt proper now to see if we will discover a solution to handle the assorted points” forward of a possible markup on the cannabis banking laws. He additionally indicated he doesn’t intend to carry extra hearings on the difficulty.
This listening to marks the sixth congressional listening to on marijuana coverage this time period, following a listening to held by the Home Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Safety on pathways to ending the federal prohibition of cannabis. It additionally comes simply hours after Home Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced plans to introduce a invoice to decriminalize marijuana on the federal degree. These definitely are all optimistic steps for the trade, however it stays to be seen whether or not something will come to fruition.