Congress leaves cannabis banking reform out of spending package

In the House, "every member of the Florida delegation under the age of 50 supported the bill."

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A massive spending package before Congress does not include marijuana banking reform, delivering yet another blow to cannabis business owners.

Advocates of legal marijuana were hoping lawmakers would add cannabis banking reform to the omnibus appropriations legislation, but that didn’t happen, Marijuana Moment reports.

After the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act failed to make it in the spending bill for a second time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, tried to add cannabis banking reform in the legislation.

Republican leaders have stymied efforts to include the bill in legislation.

With only a few weeks left in the lame duck session, the chances of Congress approving marijuana banking reform have diminished.

The measure is intended to increase access to financial services for cannabis businesses in states, like Florida, where marijuana is legal.

Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, cannabis businesses don’t have access to traditional banking services like checking accounts and loans, and they can’t deduct normal business expenses such as rent and payroll.

Without access to loans, prospective business owners must have capital upfront, making it impossible for anyone without a lot of money already to start a cannabis operation.

When the companion bill passed in the House last year, all 10 Florida Dems supported it. Among Florida's Republicans congresspeople, yes votes came from reps Kat Cammack, Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Giménez, Brian Mast, María Elvira Salazar, Greg Steube and Mike Waltz. As Jacob Ogles points out at Florida Politics, "that means every member of the Florida congressional delegation under the age of 50 supported the bill."

In October, President Joe Biden took a major step toward federal cannabis reform by pardoning all prior offenses for possession and calling on state governors to do the same. Biden also directed the secretary of Health and Human Services and the attorney general to “expeditiously” review the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic with no accepted medical use. Currently, it’s considered on par with drugs like heroin and LSD in the eyes of the federal government.

A version of this story first ran in our sister paper, the Detroit Metro Times.

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