Key senator open to compromise, hopeful of some US marijuana reform

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U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said this week he would support cannabis banking reform separate from a comprehensive federal legalization bill as long as the banking measure includes a “restorative justice” piece to give relief to those convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses.

The New Jersey Democrat talked about being open to compromise in interviews with NJ Spotlight News and Cheddar News and expressed optimism that some kind of reform can get done before the end of the current Congress.

Booker previously has been adamant that comprehensive marijuana reform should be the priority rather than passing the SAFE Banking Act as a stand-alone bill.

SAFE Banking would enable financial institutions to provide banking services to state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal.

Booker is co-sponsor of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s recently introduced Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), a wide-sweeping federal legalization bill.

But Schumer’s bill is seen as having almost no chance of getting through the Senate, and Booker said he’s open to compromise.

“It would have to be a SAFE Banking Plus bill” and include a restorative justice piece, he told Cheddar News.

Booker said “conversations” are going on right now and it “should not be that hard to get in some kind of compromise.”

He added that he’s “hopeful” something can get done before the new Congress is seated in January 2023.

He talked similarly to NJ Spotlight News in a wide-ranging interview.

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“I have the gold-standard bill, I believe, with the Majority Leader Chuck Schumer,” Booker said.

“But the reality is that I’m open to compromises that are going to achieve my goals of safety, of investment opportunities that are equal for business communities and, finally, to make sure we do something for all of these people right now who have marijuana possession charges that deserve some relief from the impact on their economic and family well-being.”