Last Chance turns into any chance as the comprehensive spending package moves forward without any cannabis banking provisions
As the 117th Congress wraps up this week, cannabis legalization advocates and industry leaders ruefully concede defeat. After two years of Democrats controlling the House and Senate, all of the groundbreaking legalization bills as well as the Safe Banking Act (SAFE) have largely fizzled out.
The last possible avenue for cannabis reform — a must-pass, sweeping spending package — moved toward acceptance on Monday and Tuesday with no mention of banking cannabis reform.
Advocates had hoped that elements of the SAFE Banking Act would be included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed Dec. 15. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attempted an entry SAFE Plus unit on the NDAA, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected the idea and declared his party would not support it. McConnell said, “This NDA is not being dragged down by liberal nonsense that has nothing to do with it.”
Once the NDAA strategy failed, the blanket spending bill became the last possible avenue for SAFE banking. By Monday afternoon, it became clear that there would be no mention of banking protections for cannabis in the sweeping bill.
As a result, cannabis legalization advocates will bid farewell to the 117th Congress without passing any major legislation.
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A common frustration among industry leaders and reform advocates
BOWL PAC founder Justin Strickall summed up a big part of the problem: “A bipartisan deal was struck, the alarmist was dealt with, but unfortunately Mitch McConnell chose to ban people and continued to stand in front of history yelling ‘Stop it.’”
It’s not all about Mitch McConnell. There are plenty of Democratic senators who share the blame for failing to move positive legislation forward.
Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers expressed her company’s frustration: “We are deeply disappointed in the leadership on both sides of the aisle and the lack of action on SAFE Banking over the past two years,” she said in a public statement.