Despite Earlier Success, Marijuana Banking May Be a Ways Off

Despite Earlier Success, Marijuana Banking May Be a Ways Off

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In September 2023, the Senate Banking Committee approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act, enabling the bill to move to the Senate floor for broader approval. The action marked a big step for cannabis businesses who have been forced to deal primarily in cash, raising safety concerns.

An earlier version of the bill dubbed the SAFE Banking Act had passed the House of Representatives seven times. Seven times it was shut out in the Senate despite bipartisan support.

Though the passage of the SAFER Banking Act would not legalize marijuana, it would provide cannabis businesses with access to deposit accounts, insurance and other financial services.

In spite of the bill making it past the Senate Banking Committee, many see more hurdles yet ahead. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that while marijuana banking legislation remains a priority, nothing would come of it without bipartisanship.

Schumer went on to blame the Republican-controlled House for blocking major legislation, again despite the aforementioned SAFE Banking Act having passed the House seven times prior. Schumer, who accused the GOP House of being the “most unproductive and dysfunctional in modern history” failed to explain why neither the previous iterations of the SAFE Banking Act or the newer SAFER Banking Act have managed to make it to the Senate floor under his control.

With Congress recessed for the remainder of the year, any progress will have to come in 2024. Capitol Hill staff and lobbyists, however, have low expectations for anything meaningful to happen, priorities aside.

In a recent survey, 71 percent of legislative staff that participated in the Canvass Capitol Hill Survey released by Punchbowl News said it was “unlikely” that cannabis reform would pass during the two-year Congress. Only 19 percent suggested it would be “likely”.

The SAFER Banking Act continues to see support from CUNA and NAFCU (soon to be merged into America’s Credit Unions), who see the bill as a “solution to a problem that affects consumers, businesses, and financial institutions around the country.”

Though CUNA was clear that is has no stance on the federal legalization of cannabis itself, they did urge Congress to move towards some sort of resolution to the compliance and business challenges of cannabis businesses and the financial institutions that serve them.

Author

  • Esteban Camargo

    As a supervising editor of CUSO Magazine, Esteban reviews and edits submissions, assists in the development of the publishing calendar, and performs his own research and writing. His experience provides CUSO Mag with a seasoned writer and content curator, able to provide valuable input to contributors, correspondents, and freelance journalists. Esteban has worked at CU*Answers since 2008 and currently serves as the CUSO's content marketing manager.

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