The SAFER Banking Act Clears Senate Committee: Today’s Milestone and Its Implications for Inclusive Cannabis Reform

Today’s Senate Banking Committee Vote: A Pivotal Moment for Cannabis Business

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee endorsed the SAFER Banking Act in a 14-9 vote. Sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), this bipartisan legislation seeks to establish more secure banking avenues for legal cannabis operations.

The Amendments: What Was Considered and What Was Left Behind

The committee made non-controversial technical amendments to the bill, led by Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Several other proposed changes, touching upon everything from stock exchange access for cannabis businesses to justice-focused marijuana reform, were expected but did not come up for consideration. Some of the noteworthy rejected amendments aimed at tying the act’s future to measurable impacts on the racial wealth gap and the War on Drugs.

The Voice of Dissent: Unresolved Issues in Cannabis Equity and Justice

Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voiced concerns that the SAFER Banking Act falls short in addressing broader issues of restorative justice within the cannabis industry. Warnock, in particular, was vocal about the legislation making life safer for banks, yet not doing enough to tackle social equity.

The Road Ahead: Amendments and Floor Votes

Despite today’s significant endorsement from the committee, this is likely not the SAFER Banking Act’s final form. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to incorporate additional legislation, focusing on state-level cannabis expungements and protecting gun rights for marijuana consumers.

Industry and Public Advocacy: Persistent Calls for More Inclusive Legislation

Outside of Capitol Hill, the push for a more equitable cannabis industry continues. A coalition of 35 cannabis trade associations, drug policy reform groups, and a top national labor union has urged Congress to pass this act. The American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp and its state chapters have also renewed their call for this legislation.

NDICA’s Perspective: Where We Go from Here

Today’s passage of the SAFER Banking Act is a commendable step, but it must not be mistaken for the final destination. While ensuring secure banking is vital for the cannabis industry, this legislation must evolve to include more comprehensive solutions addressing social equity, community reinvestment, and restorative justice. NDICA will continue to advocate for a more inclusive cannabis industry, one that truly serves all communities.

Stay tuned for ongoing updates as we track this and other legislation shaping the future of cannabis in America.

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