Marijuana Banking Reform on Hold

Charles Evans, Staff Reporter

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he and colleagues are in an “agreement” not to advance the marijuana banking reform until legalization reform advances.

However, Schumer is open to heading into alternative routes in the banking reform if lawmakers can incorporate social equity legislation such as expunging prior cannabis convictions. It is unknown if President Joe Biden would accept such bills despite this Schumer’s sight lobbying the President heavily on the legislation.

Comments Schumer made on the Drug Policy Alliance podcast “Psychoactive” state that he and Senator Cory Booker are aiming at getting more moderate people, some republicans, to get the financial services industry by making all the provisions together as it would be easier than separately.

Bipartisan legislation called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE) has a strong chance of passing in Congress as it has already been approved in the House five times previously.

Schumer said, “We’re trying to create a coalition for comprehensive reform and don’t want to pick one-off,” as legislation needs to come first. However, Schumer did not rule out adding some cannabis reform proposals into the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as long as other justice-focused provisions were added.

The “Psychoactive” podcast host, Nadelmann, asked Schumer if it would make sense to add things such as expungements on top of banking to sweeten the deal.

Schumer’s responded with, “Look, everything should be explored, and if people in the Senate can add some things on, that would make it more of a palliative. But again, I don’t want to bargain against myself here. We need comprehensive reform. That’s what we need.”

Schumer knows freeing up banks to work with marijuana businesses without being penalized by federal regulators would come to equity implications, allowing some disadvantaged communities to obtain access to capital needed to participate in the market. But, Schumer stresses that “water goes downhill” and doesn’t want to see most of the benefits to go to “fat cat, more well-to-do people, so you’ve got to be really careful about that.”

As Schumer is the majority leader, he can determine what’s on the floor, leading to him stating, “I will when we get the votes and build a coalition, and the SAFE Act will be part of that coalition due to the previous majority leader, Mitch McConnell, saying he would not put up such legislation

Schumer believes as more support for legalization spreads to states of other political party leanings, it will increase the chances of such reform being passed.

Another hurdle for Schumer is Biden, as he supports decriminalizing cannabis possession and letting states set their cannabis policies. But at the same time, remaining against the adult use of marijuana.