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Congressional Committee Strips Marijuana Banking Protections From Key Spending Bill



A GOP-controlled House committee has voted to strip marijuana banking protections from a large-scale spending bill.

While the legislation as introduced and approved by a subcommittee included language to prevent certain federal regulators from penalizing financial institutions simply for working with state-legal cannabis businesses, that was removed on Thursday by the full House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH)—co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, lead sponsor of standalone bipartisan marijuana banking legislation and the chairman of the relevant subcommittee—had secured the banking language in the base bill prior to its removal.

But the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a GOP en bloc amendment to the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) legislation that included a provision to eliminate that section from the bill.

“With over 40 states enacting some degree of cannabis reform, it is past time that the federal government respect the will of these states,” Joyce said in a statement on Thursday. “This issue is especially pertinent as cannabis regulations have been proven to increase public safety and quality of life for Americans.”

“My Financial Services and General Government bill included provisions to do just that and ensure states’ rights to make the best choices for their unique constituencies are protected. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues have taken issue with these public safety measures,” he said.

“While the provisions maintain strong bipartisan support, as chairman, I will work to alleviate their concerns but will not delay my responsibility to fund the government and therefore my legislation in the meantime,” Joyce said. “However, let me be clear, I will not abandon this effort in Congress and will continue to work with my colleagues in good faith to ensure they become law.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) spoke out against the en bloc amendment, taking aim at the removal of the marijuana banking protections. He said he “strongly” supports the provision, noting that the full House has passed standalone cannabis banking legislation “pretty handily” on several occasions.

“That provision allows people to not have to hide their money that they earn legally in the mattress, and can avail themselves of the facilities of federal banks,” Hoyer said.

Joyce said he “truly” appreciates Hoyer’s support for the reform, but said it “was withdrawn from this bill, and we’ll hope to exercise this on the floor at some time in the near future.”

“I can’t wait for the opportunity,” Hoyer replied.

The text of the cannabis banking provision, which advanced out of the House Appropriations FSGG Subcommittee earlier this month, read:

SEC. 134. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling hemp, hemp-derived cannabinoid products, other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds, and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State, political subdivision of a State, or Indian Tribe. In this section, the term ‘‘State’’ means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and any territory or possession of the United States.

Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-NC) said last week that was was “overwhelmingly concerned” with the cannabis banking section, and he threatened to file an amendment to strip the language.

Joyce told Marijuana Moment last week that “forcing cannabis businesses to operate in all cash is a magnet for violent crime,” adding that his legislation before being revised “remedies these issues by further safeguarding the safe, adult use of cannabis and increasing the safety of cannabis businesses and their employees.”

Meanwhile, the FSGG spending legislation as introduced still omits a longstanding rider from prohibitionist Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) that’s blocked D.C. from using its local tax dollars to legalize recreational marijuana sales.

The same appropriations subcommittee under Democratic control similarly omitted the D.C. cannabis sales ban and included the banking section in a spending bill for fiscal year 2022, but it did not make it into the final package.

A report attached to the underlying FSGG bill also calls on federal agencies to study state marijuana regulatory frameworks and continue to reconsider federal hiring guidelines related to cannabis use by applicants living in states where it’s legal.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Separately, the House Rules Committee on Wednesday blocked all proposed marijuana amendments—some that were pro-reform and others that were anti-reform—from floor consideration as part of a large scale defense bill. That means a measure included in the base bill to prevent military branches from testing recruits for cannabis as a condition of enlistment has been left intact, despite opposition from the White House.

The legislation also includes report language to follow up on provisions in the most recently enacted NDAA that provide funding for DOD-led clinical trials on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for active duty military service members.

New Hampshire Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill, With Final House Vote Expected Later Today

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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