Marijuana Banking Legislation, Expungements Bill Gain Momentum In Congress As Lame Duck Session Nears

Zinger Key Points
  • Lawmakers said they were making an effort to find common ground between Republicans and Democrats.
  • Congressional leaders are poised to pass banking legislation for the cannabis industry, one analyst says.

Last week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sens. Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), among other legislators, to talk about the SAFE Banking Act.

Lawmakers said they were making an effort to find common ground between Republicans and Democrats.

“We’re serious. We want to do this,” Brown said. “I’m actually fairly optimistic and hopeful that we will come to an agreement.”

Lawmakers must not only get progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans to accept cannabis banking legislation and criminal justice reform, but they must also receive “signoff” from the leaders of the Senate Banking Committee, House Financial Services Committee and party leadership in both chambers, reported Politico.

The HOPE Act, SAFE Banking Act And Social Equity

Republicans are open to the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) that would set up a “State Expungement Opportunity Grant Program” through the U.S. Department of Justice to reduce states’ costs for processing expungements.

“We’re open to some additions to it,” Daines said. “I think the Hope Act is one, but if it gets bigger than that, I think we’re gonna have a problem.”

See Also: Biden Praises Oregon Gov For Cannabis Pardons, FDA Warns CBD Companies Again, Thailand Saga Continues

Moreover, “some things will be kicked upstairs to the leaders — others will be done on our level,” said Brown, who is working with Senate Banking ranking member Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-California) and House Financial Services ranking member Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina).

The SAFE Banking Act has passed in the House seven times but hasn't moved to the Senate yet.

“What passed the House is very inadequate,” said Brown, who also indicated this week that SAFE needs some tweaking. “My main focus is to protect the workers in this industry.”

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic, who recently met with lawmakers in the nation's capital, said congressional leaders are poised to pass banking legislation for the cannabis industry in the upcoming elections. However, “the extra pieces that entail ‘SAFE Plus’ could bring parties closer to a passage,” Zuanic added.

Last week, the Senate passed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, marking the first time that a standalone piece of cannabis reform legislation will reach President Joe Biden’s desk.

“I’m still holding productive talks with Democratic and Republican colleagues in the House and the Senate on moving additional bipartisan cannabis legislation in the lame duck, and we are going to try very, very hard to get it done,” Schumer said.

Read Next: Colombian Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

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Photo: Pixabay, edited by Benzinga

Posted In: CannabisGovernmentRegulationsPoliticsTop StoriesMarketsGeneralCongressHOPE ActJeff MerkleyMajority Leader Chuck SchumerMaxine WatersPat ToomeyPatrick McHenryRep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezRep. Dave JoyceSAFE Banking ActSherrod BrownSteve Daines

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