Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) ‘remains very upset’ that marijuana banking reform was Deleted from last week’s defense billApparently at the request of the Democratic Senate leadership. But he said in an interview with Marijuana Moment that the ensuing congressional debate has nonetheless pushed the issue.
Looking to the future, the sponsor of the Banking Safe and Fair Enforcement Act (SAFE) sees additional opportunities to pass the legislation as part of other broad bills if the Senate remains unwilling to adopt the independent procedure. He has held talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (California) to this end.
Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) also told Marijuana Moment this week that they are still determined to find a way to pass despite the recent setback.
Bluminauer, who also Issued a note reflecting the progress of the year On marijuana reform and prioritization for 2022 Thursday, he said during a briefing with reporters that he has “learned to be patient” when it comes to cannabis reform on Capitol Hill.
“We’re playing a long game here, and we’re in the best position ever with the Senate,” Blumenauer said. “I am confident we will be able to move when we achieve that.”
The congressional debate over SAFE banking this year has divided some lawmakers and advocates. They share the ultimate goal of decriminalizing cannabis, but there is a tension between the pragmatic desire to pursue bipartisan legislation that is more piecemeal but has the votes to pass now and the push for comprehensive reform that will take time to build support for.
But despite lawmakers’ optimism, that doesn’t necessarily banish the latest failed attempt to secure protection for banks that choose to work with state legal cannabis firms. was home Pass the fix as part of its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), only to be sidelined after bicameral negotiations.
“By adding it to the NDAA, we’ve highlighted the matter by several notches in terms of the attention the Senate had to direct SAFE Banking,” Perlmutter told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview Tuesday.
While still frustrated by the lack of action on Senate cannabis policy, he said he was “somewhat encouraged by the conversation that developed” after he introduced an amendment in the House Rules Committee to reintroduce the legislation into the defense bill — even if it ultimately decided Not forcing a vote and risking blowing up the overall NDAA deal that emerged from bicameral negotiations.
But he and other House lawmakers have indicated that the days of playing nicely with the Senate, hoping that the other body will handle dealing with cannabis banks at its own pace, are over.
Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment Thursday that “it’s very clear that this is the last time we’re essentially avoiding a showdown” without blowing bigger bills, if it comes to that. Perlmutter made similar comments during last week’s rules meeting.
It was no secret that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has posed an obstacle to enacting marijuana banking reform through the NDAA, as he has repeatedly said he believes Comprehensive reform to end the federal cannabis ban The development of an organizational chart should come first. It was the leader’s last word, Perlmutter said, that nailed the coffin to the passage of banking reform as part of the defense bill.
“Senator Schumer really weighed in on this. It was one of the last things that got out of the NDAA — really at the insistence of the Senate Majority Leader,” he said.
The congressman is one of the sponsors of the legalization bill – the Marijuana Opportunities, Reinvestment, and Delisting (MORE) Act, passed by the House last year and The Judicial Committee acquitted this session in September. He wants to see broad reform, too. But he’s not entirely confident the proposal still has the votes to approve it in the full House again, with a narrower Democratic majority in place now than when it was last floated.
That means nothing about the Senate, where deep doubts remain about the prospects of getting 60 votes to advance the federal descheduling process.
“Right now, with SAFE Banking, we clearly know she has the votes in the House,” Perlmutter said, noting the strong bipartisan support his bill has been cleared of five times in some form at this point.
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“The bill that Senators Schumer and Senators Booker talked about — they have some basic outlines of what they’d like to see for decriminalization, and it has a criminal justice reform component in it, as well as a significant tax component in it,” he said, referring to the CAOA Cannabis Administration and Opportunity bill. “I don’t think they have the votes for that.”
“It’s not like this is a completely new topic. Where are you headed?”
“I don’t have a problem with [broad legalization] Personally.” “I just want to pass something that breaks the ice so the Senate starts eating this, you know, bigger portions if they are willing to do that.”
He also said there were other potential legislative tools he could try to introduce into banking language, which he has discussed with Pelosi, but that it is “too early to talk about” the details publicly.
Blumenauer, for his part, insisted that the Senate could easily pass SAFE Banking if it were introduced as a separate law.
“We billed them. It’s clean. And it has broad support in the Senate.” This is the simplest effort, but there will be vehicles moving back and forth. And you will see that there will be strong support to make sure that we do not fail in this again.”
Joyce, the Republican congressman from Ohio who on Thursday sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Criticizes management’s inaction On the cannabis reform who recently introduced a New marijuana expulsion billHe also recently spoke about the Safe Banking Act (SAFE) and the thinking behind enacting this bipartisan policy change first.
At an event hosted by the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR), Joyce said the More Act is a “DOA” in the Senate, meaning dead on arrival. So “we have to find a more acceptable path forward.”
“Our idea was to look into this — if you don’t mind the term — flooding the district,” the congressman said in response to a question from Marijuana Moment about combining his lengthy legislation with banking to allay Senate concerns. “You know, fragmentary things like the Hope Act and [SAFE Banking Act] And STATES a law and put these things before him instead of a blanket bill, one-size-fits-all.”
“We know we’re not doing a good job. And bite-sized pieces might be better,” said Joyce. “If we can convince the Senate at least some of these smaller members, I think we’ll get to a position where they can move forward.”
Perlmutter is quick to argue against people who say SAFE Banking is going around the industry – asserting that access to capital and “no firing” due to the dangers inherent in the marijuana business being forced to operate largely on a cash basis are Property rights issues in and themselves. But he also is not opposed to the Senate taking the legislation and adding additional social justice components.
When asked about his thoughts on attaching a marijuana repeal bill that Joyce recently introduced to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to the SAFE Banking Act as a way to allay property rights concerns voiced by Schumer and others, he referred the congressman to the Senate, saying it’s okay “If they had the votes.”
The congressman also responded to a strong backlash from House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) against Schumer’s intervention against the NDAA’s banking provisions.
“I don’t really know what the hell his problem is,” the chairman said of Schumer at last week’s hearing.
“I’m glad” the president was so publicly critical, Perlmutter told Marijuana Moment, that he could have been harsher.
Photo submitted by Mike Latimer.