The results of the November midterms created a sense of urgency among supporters of cannabis banking legislation. This is because the chances of this bill passing in the next Congress dimmed when Republicans wrested control of the House of Representatives from Democrats and denied the Democrats a solid majority in the Senate.
Renewed efforts were therefore invested to see to it that some form of cannabis banking reform is approved during the lame duck session prior to the commencement of the new Congress. That renewed vigor seems to be failing to bear fruit, however, and the GOP is being divided between those in favor of banking reform and those opposed to any form of cannabis policy reform.
A case in point involves newly elected NRSC (the Republican caucus in the Senate) chair Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, and Mitch McConnell, the minority leader of the Senate. Daines has campaigned vigorously to see cannabis banking language included in the omnibus package or in the National Defense Authorization Act, if the SAFE Banking bill fails to pass on its own.
McConnell effectively killed both options, and Daines isn’t happy about it. Daines’ home state, Montana, legalized recreational marijuana, and the GOP senator has been pushing for cannabis banking as a way to safeguard the public from the risks associated with all-cash marijuana industry operations back home. McConnell isn’t impressed.
The two leaders are vital in the GOP senate machine, and disagreements on these policy issues intertwined with politics could split the party down the middle. This is especially possible given the fact that other GOP senators, including Dan Sullivan from Alaska and Rand Paul from Kentucky, are passionate supporters of SAFE Banking.
Proponents of passing legislation enabling cannabis banking see GOP lawmakers opposed to these reforms as playing politics on a matter of public safety, especially since numerous opinion polls across the country have shown overwhelming bipartisan support at the grass roots in favor of marijuana policy reform. GOP lawmakers from states with legal marijuana markets are particularly unhappy that party leadership remains adamant about the realities on the ground, such as the risks to life faced by staff at cannabis businesses on a daily basis as burglars and armed robbers target these establishments.
Thom Tillis, a GOP senator from North Carolina, is opposed to the cannabis reform measures before the senate. He downplays any notions that the policy differences between Daines and McConnell could divide the GOP, saying that the two men share a great relationship regardless of their positions on cannabis banking.
It remains to be seen how the party resolves these internal differences without fracturing further, especially given that another election cycle is around the corner in 2024. You can bet that cannabis industry players such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) will be following events in Congress closely.
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