Cannabis Banking Reform 'Closer Than Ever,' D.C. Insiders Tell Benzinga Conference: Cannabis ETF On The Move Tuesday

Zinger Key Points
  • Several Congress members want to attach banking reform to FAA reauthorization, former Senator tells Benzinga conference.
  • Former U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutters tells the audience "we’re closer than ever" to passing cannabis banking reform.

Former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner told a panel on the first day of the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Florida that several ranking Congress members are intending to attach the SAFER Banking Act to the must-pass Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

"It might not be pretty but it will get the job done," the Colorado Republican told the Benzinga conference.

During the same panel, former U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter hinted at imminent regulatory changes that could benefit the cannabis industry, stating: “The DEA will help with 280E and so forth, and hopefully we’ll see a decision this week, or soon.”

Shares of the cannabis-focused ETF AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF MSOS, surged midday Tuesday in what could be reaction to the remarks made at the Benzinga conference.

What Happened: House Financial Services Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CAO) met recently with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to discuss stablecoin legislation, and the idea of cannabis banking legislation also being attached to the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill came up.

Gardner stressed the crucial importance of growing bipartisan support for Safer Banking.

“We have to prove to Sen. Schumer and to Sen. McConnell that we’ve got the votes on our own merit to get this through.”

The FAA reauthorization and other legislation will lead to negotiations, Gardner said: “Once we have that level of support, I believe we’re there.” Change comes slowly, and cannabis is a “heavy lift” in Washington, D.C., he added.

How Close Are We To Cannabis Banking Reform?

Gardner shared an anecdote from his early days in D.C. when he was told that major pieces of legislation take an average of 10 years to pass.

"But there's good news here though … we're at year 10,” he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Republican, who has been at the forefront of cannabis banking reform since he introduced the SAFE Banking Act in 2013, responded to panel moderator Saphira Galoob of the National Cannabis Roundtable, who asked how close are we to seeing banking reform.

"We're closer than ever," said Perlmutter, who referenced the September 2023 approval by the Senate Banking Committee of the SAFER Banking Act that had been in the works for nearly a decade.  

"This is a major piece of legislation and on the two paths — rescheduling and legislation — we're farther along than we've been in 50 years. That doesn't mean we're done, we've got a lot of work to do but we are on the cusp," he said.

Lauren Niehaus, Trulieve TCNNF’s director of government relations, said that "when we meet with our members of Congress, we think we're the most important issue in the room, but they have hundreds of thousands of issues they're dealing with, so it's an uphill battle and it's steep, but that doesn't mean we're not getting there."

John Sullivan, executive VP of Cresco Labs CRLBF, said that although it can take 11 years to pass a piece of legislation, a lot has changed in the last three years. He referred to President Joe Biden as a "reluctant cannabis person."

“But we all know that cannabis wins on the merits,” Sullivan said. “There is no doubt that cannabis by and large is beneficial to society. It helps people with all different kinds of ailments, it helps people relax, and for 5,000 years the plant hasn’t killed anybody. So we need to keep talking to our legislators about it.”

Javier Hasse contributed to this report.

Former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, center, with former U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, left, and Cresco Labs executive vice president John Sullivan, right, at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference April 16, 2024 in Hollywood, Florida. Photo by Quentin Dupree.

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsSpecialty ETFsPoliticsTop StoriesExclusivesMarketsETFsBenzinga Cannabis Capital ConferenceCCCCory GardnerEd PerlmutterJohn SullivanLauren NiehausSaphira GaloobStories That Matter
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The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Florida

The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is returning to Florida, in a new venue in Hollywood, on April 16 and 17, 2024. The two-day event at The Diplomat Beach Resort will be a chance for entrepreneurs, both large and small, to network, learn and grow. Renowned for its trendsetting abilities and influence on the future of cannabis, mark your calendars – this conference is the go-to event of the year for the cannabis world.

Get your tickets now on – Prices will increase very soon!