‘Now is the time’ for cannabis banking reform, key Democrat says

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Federal lawmakers are inching closer to a deal on legislation that could include cannabis banking reform, a leading House Democrat says.

“Now is the time” for Congress to finally pass the SAFER Banking Act, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the leading Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said Wednesday during an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Negotiations between Waters and North Carolina Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, the committee chair, will soon yield a compromise on cryptocurrency regulation, Waters said.

And there’s support across Congress for tucking marijuana banking reform into a cryptocurrency-related bill – all of which could then be tacked onto a must-pass Federal Aviation Administration spending bill.

That bill must be renewed by May 10.

If finally passed by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden, the SAFER Banking Act would bar federal regulators from punishing financial institutions for doing business with state-licensed marijuana firms.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, has indicated support for including cannabis banking reform in other banking bills, including stablecoin regulation.

Earlier versions of the SAFER Banking Act have passed the House while under Democratic control, but they have stalled in the full Senate.

The bill was heard in a Senate committee last fall, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not call the bill for a full floor vote.

It remains far from clear whether the bill has the necessary 60 votes to pass the full Senate.

Republicans such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who put the kibosh on efforts to bundle cannabis banking with a defense-spending bill in December 2022, are likely still opposed, Waters said.

Passing SAFER Banking remains a top priority, Schumer said Tuesday during a media briefing, according to Marijuana Moment.

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