The House Passes SAFE Banking for a Sixth Time… What Will It Take to Pass?
By: Andrew P. Cooper, Esq., LL.M. and Terran Cooper
We’ve been here before. Five times before to be exact. Similar to the most recent attempt at passing SAFE Banking, an amendment from sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter added the SAFE Banking provisions to a large-scale bill. Also similar to the previous attempt, the provisions will need to face bicameral negotiations in order to pass. So, what’s different this time around?
Many blamed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other key democrats for the previous failure of the SAFE Banking Act. Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Cory Booker were both originally outspoken in their desire to pass broader legalization bills inclusive of social equity initiatives in advance of banking reform. Recently, however, Majority Leader Schumer did seem open to advancing the incremental reform if certain equity provisions were attached to it. Some such provisions could be providing incentives for minority deposit institutions or community development facilities.
The ball is ultimately in the court of SAFE Banking’s sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter. This is set to be the Colorado Representative’s last session in Congress, who has stated “I’m gonna get that darn thing passed this year while I serve out my term.” Perlmutter is apparently in talks about revising the provisions in a way that could mitigate the concerns of Senators, namely Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Booker. The conversations regarding equity provisions supposedly began before the previous attempt at passing SAFE Banking but were too little and too late prior to its removal from the NDAA (Jaeger, 2022).
The SAFE Banking act will require a careful bipartisan balancing act in order to pass alongside the America COMPETES Act. The SAFE Banking Act currently has narrow bipartisan support, with the biggest opposition coming from key Democrats. While it will likely be necessary to gain the support of Senate Majority Leader Schumer and other key Democrats in order to pass, there is a fine line to tread. The changing of the bill’s provisions could cause critical Republican members such as House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry to oppose its passage (Jaeger, 2022).
Despite public opinion, continued robberies, a lack of financial services, and often having to deal on a “cash-only” basis, the cannabis industry has seen no true reform at a federal level. While many still hope to see significant and widespread reform, the cannabis industry will take what it can get. Rep. Perlmutter has a tall task in front of him, but if he can successfully bridge the gap between parties then we may see the first substantial cannabis reform of our lifetime.
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