The Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking act passed the House of Representatives for the sixth time last week and will go to the Senate as part of The America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022 (America COMPETES Act.) The SAFE Banking Act will allow access for legally operating cannabis companies to utilize the banking system in the same manner that any other company. Currently, the FDIC does not allow banks to work with cannabis companies without fear of losing their federal deposit insurance and other retributions.
“China has been steadily building up its military and economic might, and the Democrats’ answer is to help Americans get high,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor. The Republican from Kentucky paid no mind to the fact that 37 states now have legal medical marijuana laws and marijuana sales have accounted for over $10 billion dollars in tax revenue since adult use legalization according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
McConnell’s soundbite also fails to acknowledge the growing support for Marijuana as medicine. He played down the opioid crisis by stating “Democrats plan to combat [opioid overdoses] is more marijuana on the side,” on the Senate floor. A recent study by Thomas Jefferson University published in the scientific journal Cureus found that patients suffering from chronic back pain reduced opioid use after introduction to medical marijuana treatments.
Lost in the lack of discussion from McConnell is the fact that less than 8% of the US population wants to keep Marijuana illegal in all circumstances according to a study from the Pew Research Center. Whether marijuana is legal for full adult use, or just medical use, the industry is producing large amounts of revenue without access to the banking system which is largely used to track income and assist in tax and auditing processes. Leaving cannabis businesses outside of the banking system means that states with legal marijuana sales will rely more heavily on self reporting of income than other industries.
Montana Senator Steve Daines is the lead Republican sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act and Montana’s Democratic Senator John Tester is a co-sponsor. The Montana delegation will have their work cut out for them if the bill faces opposition from more than just McConnell and the voices supporting continued prohibition.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that he may oppose the SAFE Banking Act in its current form, choosing instead to include it in his broader effort to reschedule Marijuana from being a schedule one narcotic. President Biden has indicated that he may oppose the bill as well, presumably for the same reason.
Senator Daines cites strong bipartisan support as the reason that he will continue to advance the SAFE Banking Act as a stand alone bill.
Please consider supporting efforts to modernize and reform marijuana laws by joining the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML.)