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Congress Will Not Pursue Marijuana Banking Reform Through Must-Pass Aviation Bill, Industry Group Says

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Congressional lawmakers have abandoned plans to pursue a marijuana banking bill through unrelated must-pass aviation legislation, determining that it’s “insufficiently germane,” according to a top industry association that cited sources familiar with the decision.

That might come as unwelcome news for supporters, including stakeholders who were alerted to the development by an internal U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC) email on Thursday. But there are still other legislative paths for the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act this session, including the continued possibility of advancing it as a standalone measure.

Plans to attach the cannabis bill, as well as cryptocurrency regulations legislation, to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization package, however, have fallen through, USCC says.

“Our sources indicate that the SAFER Banking Act will not be included in the must-pass FAA reauthorization bill,” USCC Senior Vice President of Public Affairs David Culver said in the email obtained by Marijuana Moment. “We understand that the provision, along with other banking priorities such as stablecoin, were deemed insufficiently germane to the aviation-centric package.”

“It’s disappointing, to be sure, but there will be ample opportunities to pass SAFER in this Congress,” the email says. “Leadership will now reassess and consider whether to advance the bill as a standalone or through one of the lame duck legislative vehicles.”

“SAFER has many powerful backers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and enjoys strong, bipartisan support,” it says. We remain optimistic about its prospects for passage.”

On Tuesday, Schumer once again included the bipartisan marijuana banking bill in a list of legislative priorities he hopes to advance this year.

Since the Senate recently approved must-pass appropriations legislation and foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, there are heightened expectations that floor action could be on the horizon.

Adding to those expectations is the recent introduction of a bill to incentivize expungements for past cannabis offenses at the state, local and tribal levels. Schumer has made clear he intends to attach that measure to the banking legislation on the floor.

Schumer also recently asked people to show their support for the SAFER Banking Act by signing a petition as he steps up his push for the legislation. A poll released last month by the American Bankers Association (ABA) shows that roughly three out of five Americans support allowing marijuana industry access to the banking system.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that that “if Republicans want to keep the House,” they should pass the marijuana banking bill, arguing that “there are votes” to approve it.

Schumer told Marijuana Moment last month that the bill remains a “very high priority” for the Senate, and members are having “very productive” bicameral talks to reach a final agreement.

Meanwhile, this week Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, acknowledged discussions about attaching the cannabis banking bill to the FAA legislation.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said last month that passing the SAFER Banking Act off the floor is a “high priority.” However, he also recently said in a separate interview that advancing the legislation is complicated by current House dynamics.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) separately said during a recent American Bankers Association (ABA) summit that he wants to see the SAFER Banking Act move.

He said that, “for whatever reason, the federal government has been slow” to act on the incremental reform that he supports even though he doesn’t identify as “a marijuana guy.”

One key factor that’s kept the bill from the Senate floor is disagreement over mostly non-cannabis provisions dealing with broader banking regulations, primarily those contained in Section 10 of the legislation.

Bicameral negotiations have been ongoing, however, and recent reporting suggests that a final deal could be just over the horizon.

The Democratic Senate sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), told Marijuana Moment last month that the legislation is “gaining momentum” as lawmakers work to bring it to the floor and pass it “this year.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, founding co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last week that, “every day we’re closer on SAFE Banking, and negotiations “are ongoing in the House and Senate, and we are, in fact, making progress.”

At the close of the first half of the 118th Congress in December, Schumer said in a floor speech that lawmakers would “hit the ground running” in 2024, aiming to build on bipartisan progress on several key issues, including marijuana banking reform—though he noted it “won’t be easy.”

Read the full text of the USCC email on the status of the SAFER Banking Act below:

I’m writing to share the latest developments from Capitol Hill today, where USCC staff and members spent much of the day.

Our sources indicate that the SAFER Banking Act will not be included in the must-pass FAA reauthorization bill. We understand that the provision, along with other banking priorities such as stablecoin, were deemed insufficiently germane to the aviation-centric package.

As I noted yesterday, it was an open question as to whether the banking provisions would remain in the final version of the bill. Unfortunately, they will not.

It’s disappointing, to be sure, but there will be ample opportunities to pass SAFER in this Congress. Leadership will now reassess and consider whether to advance the bill as a standalone or through one of the lame duck legislative vehicles.

SAFER has many powerful backers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and enjoys strong, bipartisan support. We remain optimistic about its prospects for passage.

We will use next Tuesday’s Government Relations call to dig into the next steps for SAFER. I hope you can join us then.

Please feel free to reach out directly in the meantime.

Best,
David Culver
SVP of Public Affairs
US Cannabis Council

Biden Campaign Says Trump ‘Took Marijuana Reform Backwards’ By Rescinding Enforcement Memo, Despite Current Admin Failing To Reinstate It

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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