Will Cannabis Banking Reform Finally Pass Along With the Defense Bill?
Fifth time is a charm, right?
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a large-scale defense spending bill on Thursday, just days after passing cannabis banking reform which was part of the legislation. So, it seems that cannabis banking could end up on President Biden's desk along with the all-important defense budget.
The cannabis banking reform measure – approved Tuesday on a voice vote – would allow banks to do business with cannabis companies without being penalized by federal regulators.
The vote came after the House Rules Committee made in order the amendment from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) for floor consideration. It was one of various drug policy proposals lawmakers were hoping to attach to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Marijuana Moment reported.
The latest breakthrough is the fifth time that the House has passed the cannabis banking reform in recent years.
Pushback from key senators
Perlmutter indicated that he was optimistic about including banking reform in the NDAA as the vehicle to send it to the Senate floor.
“I think the fifth time is the charm,” Perlmutter told Marijuana Moment. “I mean, obviously, we still have to do some work to make sure that it remains part of the NDAA as the House and the Senate go to conference. So we still have work to do with the Senate to make sure that it remains part of it. But I think that it will.”
However, some key senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), have insisted on passing comprehensive justice-focused marijuana legalization first, arguing that passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act first could affect support for broader reform.
A tweet posted by Politico’s Natalie Fertig cited a Schumer spokesperson who said the senator’s position – that both reforms should move “at the same time” – had not changed.
On Wednesday, Booker, who is working on a final legalization bill with Schumer and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), told Politico that cannabis banking is “something that should not be included” in the defense budget.
“It undermines the ability to get comprehensive marijuana reform and the kind of things that are harder to get done like expungement of people’s records,” Booker said, as per Fertig’s tweet.