Historic US Senate hearing eyes cannabis banking hurdles, but major reform seen as long shot

The GOP-controlled U.S. Senate will hold its first marijuana hearing Tuesday on the challenges that state-lawful marijuana companies confront when seeking banking services, but it’s unlikely the chamber would approve major reform anytime soon.

“I remain pessimistic unless and until somebody signals to me that either Sen. (Mitch) McConnell, as the leader of the Senate, or his caucus is strongly supportive (of reform),” said Douglas Berman, director of Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.

The Senate Banking Committee hearing, “Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives,” will be streamed live here.

A number of the scheduled witnesses are expected to advocate for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a bill that would enable financial institutions to serve legal cannabis-related businesses without fear of federal prosecution.

SAFE passed a House committee, and there is a strong chance of it being approved by the full chamber later this year.

The Senate hearing reflects how the SAFE Banking Act is a legislative priority for an increasing number of industries impacted by cannabis banking, such as the American Bankers Association, said Saphira Galoob, CEO of the Liaison Group and executive director of the National Cannabis Roundtable.

“It’s really the voices of these groups that have given the momentum and traction to the issue in the Senate,” she noted.

Those groups and numerous lawmakers worry about the public safety risks of the often cash-only cannabis industry. They see the need for a regulated system to follow the flow of money.

Scheduled witnesses include:

  • Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican and a co-sponsor of the SAFE Act.
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who introduced the SAFE Banking Act of 2019.
  • John Lord, CEO and owner of LivWell Enlightened Health, a Colorado-based MMJ company. Lord also is chair of the Cannabis Trade Federation, an industry group.
  • Rachel Pross, chief risk officer of Maps Credit Union in Oregon. Pross is speaking on behalf of the Credit Union National Association.
  • Joanne Sherwood, president and CEO of Citywide Banks in Colorado. She will testify on behalf of the American Bankers Association.
  • Garth Van Meter, vice president of government affairs of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a nonprofit concerned about the impact of marijuana policies on public health and the youth.

Jeff Smith can be reached at [email protected]

One comment on “Historic US Senate hearing eyes cannabis banking hurdles, but major reform seen as long shot
  1. Glenda on

    I think it’s nothing but a bunch of political bull crap just like the rest of 89 % of American people feel I too feel there’s nothing wrong with weed and it does have a lot of medical benefits and recreational benefits but the politicians put it on the federally drug list without even knowing if it was a bad drug or not which they knew it wasn’t a bad drug but with all it’s benefits the pharmaceutical drug companies knew it was gonna hurt they’re drug business so they started paying off the politicians and the politicians started giving orders to burn the fields of marijuana that God himself spread seeds for in the beginning of time when he created the world he spread these seeds so that they would multiply and that it would be plentiful all over the world just as an herb and it’s benefits and if you go to page two of the Bible and read Genesis 1:23 and read 27 through I think it’s 30 you will see why it’s been around for centuries as a matter of fact it’s as old as time so here it is almost the middle of September and the Senate has been back off their six week vacation and they still haven’t brought up the bill for safer banking for marijuana businesses and there’s a reason for that cause they stirred up enough crap to cause people to lose focus the shootings I think the politicians are behind this was their way of bringing up gun control again to stir people’s focuses off the marijuana bill and put it on gun control and that’s so they can keep lining their pockets the money that taxpayers are paying for anyway they’re for one double dipping they lock people up that is caught with marijuana and they’re pockets get lined with the pharmaceutical money and then the taxpayers money for housing these people that they call criminals and then they also get money from all the fines that the person has to pay after he gets released hell why would they want to make it federally legal but as far as I’m concerned they’re breaking the law by locking people up for something they had a right to from the beginning of time it’s an herb that has been proven not to have killed or harmed anybody and it was put here by God himself for his people so what right does the government have taking an herbal substance away from us that’s never hurt anybody and that God intended for his people to use as food to benefit their bodies it’s fair to say it should have never been put on a scheduled one drug list in the first place and if the tables were turned the politicians would be going to jail for stealing from the people in more ways then one. I think it’s time people stand up and take back what’s rightfully theirs and that’s the healthy herbs that our father spread for the benefits of our bodies it’s been proven to help with Cancer and many other illnesses whereas with man made pharmaceutical lab crap has done nothing but killed people and it should be the people choice to care for their bodies off of what God put on this land versus what man made labs had made up last I heard the constitution was made for the people what happened to that.?

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