The reality that the House of Representatives will be controlled by Republicans in the coming Congress has created a sense of urgency among legislators who want to see marijuana banking legalized. These advocates are working feverishly to garner support so that a deal is reached during this lame duck session of Congress. Otherwise the prospects are dim if this opportunity is missed.
Members from both sides of the political divide are working tirelessly to secure a compromise position between those who say that the banking bill doesn’t go far enough and those at the other end who think it goes beyond what they find acceptable. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chair of the Senate banking committee, says that he is optimistic that a deal can be struck this lame duck. He and Senators Jeff Merkley and Steve Daines recently met Chuck Schumer the Senate Majority Leader regarding the SAFE Banking Act.
It will be a tough job getting cannabis banking approved given that two key considerations have to be fulfilled. First, proponents must address the need to pass banking provisions while also combining them with provisions geared at reforming the criminal justice system with respect to marijuana. This is no easy task, because it must please the progressives who want far-reaching reforms, and yet it mustn’t alienate Republicans who can only stomach very modest marijuana policy reforms.
Secondly, the compromise reforms drafted must get the nod of the chair of the Financial Services Committee of the House of Representatives, the leader of the Banking Committee in the Senate and the leaders of both parties in both chambers of Congress. That is a task that will require major negotiations and political gymnastics.
Nevertheless, hopes are high, and efforts to attain both of those goals are already in high gear. For example, Daines, a Republican from Ohio, says that his party colleagues don’t have any problems with the HOPE Act, a House bill tabled by Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez and Dave Joyce. This bill aims at securing federal funding for expungements at state level. Joyce says they are open to including provisions on marijuana research, but if lawmakers want a lot more added, the bill’s chances could dim significantly.
There has also been talk of SAFE Plus, a law that would address cannabis banking while also including language on social justice matters. A number of legislators, including Schumer, are strongly against passing marijuana banking without providing relief to communities that have suffered the worst of the prohibition laws. How these different interests are addressed in one reform package will test the proponents’ negotiation skills to the max, and industry actors such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) will be watching closely to see whether the lame duck session yields success on this front.
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