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GOP Congressman Will Attempt To Remove Marijuana Banking Protections From Spending Bill Due To ‘Overwhelming’ Concerns



A GOP congressman says he’s “overwhelmingly concerned” with a provision of a spending bill that would provide limited protections for banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses, and he’s threatening to file an amendment to strip the language as the underlying measure advances.

During a markup of the Fiscal Year 2025 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations measure on Wednesday, Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-NC) spoke out against the cannabis banking section, which subcommittee chairman Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) secured in the base bill.

“I understand it’s not in order to propose amendments at this level, but I certainly intend to raise that issue at the appropriate time,” Edwards said, signaling that he will propose an amendment to remove the section in the full committee or on the floor.

He said that the proposal is not germane to an appropriations bill because, he argues, it is “an affirmative authorization disguised as a limitation” on the spending of funds. But his primary contention is with the policy substance of the measure, which would prevent federal regulators covered under the FSGG bill from using their funding to penalize financial institutions that service state cannabis businesses.

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.

“Our country has never allowed a federally illegal activity to be banked. And it’s important to note that, despite some states trying to legalize it, marijuana is still a Schedule I drug,” the congressman— who introduced legislation last year to slash federal funding from individual states and Indian tribes that legalize marijuana—said.

“Marijuana is still illegal, and I believe that it should remain illegal,” he said.

“It’s dangerous, and more and more evidence is being found that it causes irreparable harm, particularly to younger minds, but we can have that debate in other committees,” he said, adding that the section amounts to “selective provision” of the standalone Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act that Joyce is sponsoring and that it “results in a deviation from federal law that would significantly alter the way that America does business.”

“While I admire the tenacity and ambition of members who have supported this provision, its place is not in an appropriations bill,” Edwards said. “I certainly look forward to additional discussion, and in the interest of not providing any surprises, I wanted to make sure that you’re aware of that.”

Edwards has also opposed legislation that cleared committee last year to prevent the denial of federal employment or security clearances based on a candidate’s past marijuana use. And he’s also been critical of the Biden administration’s move to reschedule cannabis, suggesting that it would increase youth access even though the reclassification would not legalize marijuana.

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

In addition to the cannabis banking section, the FSGG spending legislation also notably omits a longstanding rider from prohibitionist Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) that’s blocked Washington, 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.

This current version of the legislation from the panel led by Joyce does include at least one drug policy provision that advocates oppose, including language preventing the use of D.C. local funds to manage a syringe exchange program.

The bill also seeks to interfere in various other local policy matters in the District of Columbia, including abortion, contraceptives, assisted suicide, voting by non-citizens, firearms, vehicle emissions and even right turns at red lights—highlighting the importance of removing the cannabis rider specifically for Joyce, the subcommittee chair.

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.

Meanwhile, the House on Tuesday approved amendments to another large-scale spending bill that would authorize U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to military veterans and support psychedelics research and access at VA.

Republican members of Congress are also seeking to eliminate a provision of a separate defense bill that would block military branches from testing recruits for marijuana as a condition of enlistment, while other members push for a variety of new drug policy amendments that would prevent security clearance denials based on past cannabis use, expand expungement eligibility and facilitate the rescheduling of certain psychedelics, among other reforms.

The proposals are being pursued as part of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which cleared the House Armed Services Committee last month and must now also go before the Rules Committee before potentially reaching the floor.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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