The House passed a standalone marijuana reform bill for the first time ever on Wednesday, and the development has sparked widespread excitement among lawmakers and advocates.
Following the chamber’s 321-103 passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, lots of members of Congress shared their support on Twitter and in press releases. The bill was approved by all but one Democrat and garnered support from nearly half of the chamber’s Republicans.
Here’s how lawmakers and advocates are reacting to the bill’s passage.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), lead sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act:
Passing the #SAFEBankingAct will show that Congress can work together in a bipartisan way to address outdated marijuana laws. I hope this bill is an icebreaker for the House to take up other reforms and finally remove the conflict between state and federal laws. #copolitics pic.twitter.com/0rBWvQUJGh
— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) September 25, 2019
“Thousands of employees, businesses and communities across this country have been forced to deal in piles of cash because of the conflict between state and federal law. After six years of working on this bill, the SAFE Banking Act will go a long way in getting cash off our streets and providing certainty so financial institutions can work with cannabis businesses and employees. I appreciate the partnership of Reps. Heck, Stivers and Davidson and the input and support from several others including Chairwoman Waters for their help passing this bill in the House. I look forward to working with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Crapo, Ranking Member Brown, and the entire Senate as they take up this important issue.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
Congratulations to @RepPerlmutter & @RepDennyHeck on a strong bipartisan vote to pass the #SAFEBanking Act, which will allow financial institutions to finally begin working with legitimate marijuana businesses. https://t.co/qcWf4an6Er
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) September 25, 2019
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ):
This bill addresses the need for cannabis businesses to access financial institutions, but it doesn’t help repair the damage done by the failed War on Drugs.
We can & must do more. The end we seek isn’t just legalization or easing financing issues – it’s justice. https://t.co/zMKLBRpUy2
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) September 25, 2019
“As the SAFE Banking Act now heads to the Senate, we can and we must do more. With this legislation, we can both address the pressing need for cannabis businesses to access financial institutions and provide real restorative justice for those most harmed by the failed War on Drugs. It’s simply not enough as it stands without reinvestment in communities most hurt by the failed drug war and while people of color are left to languish in federal prisons for marijuana-related offenses. Low-income Americans and communities of color have been devastated by the War on Drugs – we should be repairing the damage inflicted on these communities. The end we seek is not just legalization or access to financial institutions, it’s justice.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA):
Last week, the House passed a bill to give marijuana businesses access to banking. That’s important, but it's not enough.
We need to legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and create paths for people of color to enter the legal marijuana industry.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) September 29, 2019
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO):
The #SAFEBankingAct would allow our banking system to serve marijuana businesses the same way they serve any other legal places of business. Congrats @RepPerlmutter for pushing this across the finish line in the House. Now, the Senate must act. https://t.co/AZWPcGqQQJ
— Michael Bennet (@SenatorBennet) September 26, 2019
“The lack of access to banking services for marijuana businesses is a public safety issue in Colorado and across the country. This common-sense bill would allow our banking system to serve marijuana businesses the same way they serve any other legal places of business. I’m grateful to Congressman Perlmutter for his leadership in pushing this bill across the finish line. We will continue our efforts to move this bill in the Senate.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO):
The House overwhelmingly approved the SAFE Banking Act, a bill I’m leading in the Senate to address conflicting federal & state marijuana laws that prevent legitimate businesses from using basic financial services. I’m glad there is strong bipartisan support to solve this issue. pic.twitter.com/jVLZVkXqWQ
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) September 26, 2019
“Today Congress began to take its head out of the sand and recognize that states are moving forward with their own cannabis policies and the federal government is holding them back. The conflicting federal and state marijuana laws make it difficult for legitimate businesses to use basic financial services, and this bipartisan legislation gets Washington out of the way and gives them the access they need to do business and pay taxes. Today’s historic action in the people’s House adds to the momentum the SAFE Banking Act gained following the Banking Committee’s hearing in July. The Senate should move forward with the SAFE Banking Act and deliver it to the President for his signature.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR):
“Forcing businesses to operate in cash is an invitation to crime, money laundering, and robbery. Whether you’re for or against legal cannabis, we can all agree that we want our communities to be safe from fraud and crime. Today we saw overwhelming support in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the SAFE Banking Act and get this common-sense fix into law. Now it’s time for the Senate to act. While we continue to work to address broader issues related to the harmful legacy of cannabis prohibition across the country, I am hopeful that we can get the SAFE Banking Act moving quickly through committee, to the Senate floor, and ultimately, to the President’s desk.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV):
Glad the House passed the SAFE Banking Act. This is a positive move forward that provides certainty to legal marijuana businesses in states that have chosen to legalize it. I’ll be working in the Senate to pass this bill so businesses have certainty&can access the banking system. https://t.co/EKKH1orTo7
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) September 27, 2019
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV):
Our legal marijuana businesses have created thousands of jobs and exceeded projections in raising revenue for our state.
Glad to see the House pass the SAFE Banking Act to allow these businesses to bank without fear of federal interference – now the Senate should do the same. https://t.co/HC0XyYCnsc
— Senator Jacky Rosen (@SenJackyRosen) September 29, 2019
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ):
“Not only will the SAFE Banking Act ensure that marijuana businesses operating legally are treated like any other legal small business when it comes to accessing essential banking products—including in New Jersey, which has taken bold steps to expand medical marijuana—I am pleased that the House-passed bill also includes key provisions of my CLAIM Act to allow these business owners to obtain insurance coverage so they can protect their property, employees and customers. I would urge the full Senate to pass this common sense legislation that levels the playing field in the banking space by ensuring more equal access to capital.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA):
We need #SAFEBanking to give the cannabis industry access to safe and effective banking. But we also need to ensure that communities of color equally benefit from legalization and that Congress addresses the legacy of the failed & racist War on Drugs through restorative justice. pic.twitter.com/gHscDm9d1T
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) September 25, 2019
The House just passed a landmark #SAFEBanking bill to help legitimize the marijuana industry. This is a good first step, but we must work to provide restorative justice to communities of color most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.https://t.co/nLgEAEPtap
— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) September 27, 2019
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA):
Now, we need to decriminalize and deschedule cannabis while providing reinvestment, restorative justice & expungement to persons & communities of color that continue to be adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
— Rep. Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) September 25, 2019
Rep. Don Young (R-AK):
For too long, the federal gov't has stood in the way of states that have acted to set their own #cannabis policies. Proud to help the House pass the SAFE Banking Act to help entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry utilize financial services. Read more: https://t.co/DRFHRhsREG
— Rep. Don Young (@repdonyoung) September 27, 2019
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA):
It’s time to align state and federal law when it comes to #marijuana banking. Proud to support the #SAFEBankingAct which has broad support ranging from financial services and law enforcement to insurance and real estate. pic.twitter.com/LmiUREeFvU
— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) September 25, 2019
Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA):
“Today’s passage of the SAFE Banking Act is a major milestone. When we began this journey over six years ago, we knew that the changes in state laws around cannabis meant that the federal government would have to act to address public safety. Time kept passing, even as the bill did not, and that confirmed the need for this legislation. More and more states changed their laws with regard to marijuana, and the need to get cash off the streets kept growing.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL):
It's ludicrous that Congress would stand between people operating under state law and their ability to access the financial system
I was proud to vote for the SAFE Banking Act today, which passed the House. Hopefully this will build common sense momentum for real cannabis reform pic.twitter.com/cGpXHvDmge
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 25, 2019
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR):
Today was historic.
The first standalone cannabis bill to give cannabis businesses access to banking services passed out of the House with an overwhelming bipartisan vote.
This is our blueprint for legalization in action. Our movement is cresting & we won't stop here. Onward!
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) September 26, 2019
“Today’s vote is historic. The House of Representatives took the most significant step thus far in addressing our outdated and out-of-touch federal cannabis laws. It never made any sense to deny state legal cannabis businesses access to banking services. It not only seriously disadvantaged these businesses, but it also was an open invitation to theft, tax evasion, and money laundering. Congressmen Perlmutter and Heck have fought tirelessly to bring their bill to the floor, and I applaud Chairwoman Waters and House leadership for their support. States have outpaced the federal government on this issue, and state-legal cannabis industries and their employees have suffered. There is much more to be done to end this senseless prohibition. This is just the beginning.”
Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY):
I spoke on the House floor today in support of my provisions included in the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE ) Banking Act. Watch here: pic.twitter.com/oCAvtkUQmn
— Rep. Andy Barr (@RepAndyBarr) September 25, 2019
At a time when hemp-related businesses are booming, many Kentucky hemp farmers and businesses are experiencing roadblocks when it comes to accessing banking and financial services.
— Rep. Andy Barr (@RepAndyBarr) September 25, 2019
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN):
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) September 26, 2019
We need to align our state and federal laws when it comes to marijuana banking.
The SAFE Banking Act will allow for legal marijuanna businesses to access banking services.https://t.co/R5SY717vpW
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) September 29, 2019
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR):
Finally, the House passed with my support #SAFEBankingAct, landmark legislation to ensure that legal cannabis and hemp businesses in OR and across the country have access to banking services. It will improve safety in our communities and just makes sense. https://t.co/oqjDoxmwh3
— Rep Peter DeFazio (@RepPeterDeFazio) September 26, 2019
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT):
Yesterday, the House passed the #SAFEBanking Act to reduce conflict between state & federal law when it comes to banking for legal medical & recreational marijuana businesses. More here: https://t.co/CJp9dkNAvl
— Rep. Joe Courtney (@RepJoeCourtney) September 26, 2019
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN):
Conflict between state & federal law means legal, legitimate marijuana businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, creating serious risks for employees, business owners, & communities. The #SAFEBankingAct will fix this problem and I'm proud to support it. pic.twitter.com/eYA6iNtXxB
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) September 25, 2019
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME):
For too long legal businesses, directly and indirectly serving the #cannabis industry, have been shut out of the banking system.
— Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) September 26, 2019
Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA):
The #SAFEBankingAct has been at the center of my conversations with @WaTreasurer. I'm glad we could get it over the finish line & give legal cannabis industry access to the banking system instead of forcing them to deal in cash -a threat to public safety. https://t.co/8ENrmj7CBs
— Rep. Kim Schrier (@RepKimSchrier) September 26, 2019
Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL):
— Bill Foster (@RepBillFoster) September 27, 2019
Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK):
— Congresswoman Kendra Horn (@RepKendraHorn) September 25, 2019
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL):
Floridians have spoken, Sunshine State is one of fastest growing cannabis economies in US. Proud to vote for bipartisan #SAFEBankingAct to keep cannabis businesses from having to deal in all cash, keeping our communities safer. Federal gov't must catch up to will of the people! pic.twitter.com/lvGJNcf2DZ
— Rep. Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) September 25, 2019
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM):
Conflict between state and federal law means legal & legitimate cannabis-related businesses are forced to operate in the shadows on a cash-only basis.
— Ben Ray Luján (@repbenraylujan) September 25, 2019
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO):
It is not safe to walk around with duffel bags full of cash – but that’s what’s happening right now. Marijuana is already legal in many states. Now let’s make it safe for legitimate marijuana businesses to use banks like other legitimate businesses. #SAFEBankingAct
— Rep. Debbie Dingell (@RepDebDingell) September 25, 2019
Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV):
Big news! The House just passed the SAFE Banking Act to allow banks and credit unions to work with cannabis businesses.
Nevada is proof that the era of marijuana prohibition is over. It's time for @realDonaldTrump and the U.S. Senate to start acting like it.
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) September 25, 2019
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA):
#SAFEBanking is a big deal for the employees, businesses & communities who have to deal with high amounts of cash because the federal government won’t let the industry use banks. The public voted to legalize cannabis, it’s time to recognize these businesses so that they can grow.
— TeamMoulton (@teammoulton) September 25, 2019
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL):
Americans in 47 states, including FL, have voted to legalize some form of marijuana or CBD oil. Congress needs to act & allow these legal businesses access to the banking system to get cash off of our streets. Proud to support #SAFEBanking to make our communities safer! pic.twitter.com/Aio594Bjzj
— Alcee L. Hastings (@RepHastingsFL) September 26, 2019
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI):
It is not safe to walk around with duffel bags full of cash – but that’s what’s happening right now. Marijuana is already legal in many states. Now let’s make it safe for legitimate marijuana businesses to use banks like other legitimate businesses. #SAFEBankingAct
— Rep. Debbie Dingell (@RepDebDingell) September 25, 2019
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY):
47 states have voted to legalize recreational marijuana, medical marijuana or CBD oil and yet our federal banking laws treat legitimate businesses as criminals for selling these products. That's beyond backwards. Congress needs to catch up. It’s time to pass the #SAFEBankingAct. pic.twitter.com/JiNGNleXpe
— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) September 25, 2019
Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA):
I also introduced a bipartisan-supported amendment to ensure new banks and credit unions are guaranteed the same protections when servicing marijuana businesses.
Read more about my work to level the playing field in the legal cannabis industry >> https://t.co/NWEmDFk6M3
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) September 25, 2019
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA):
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) September 25, 2019
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA):
Yesterday, the House passed the #SAFEBanking Act, a bipartisan bill I cosponsored that applies federal banking laws to legal marijuana businesses in Washington state and across the U.S. to improve public safety, transparency and accountability.
— Rep. Rick Larsen (@RepRickLarsen) September 26, 2019
Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA):
— Dwight Evans (@RepDwightEvans) September 26, 2019
Rep. David Joyce (R-OH):
“The current federal approach to cannabis policy not only infringes on the rights of states to implement their own laws (as the vast majority have done), but also hurts legitimate businesses. Currently, cannabis companies are not afforded the same access to financial services as every other legal business in our country. With banks refusing to accept their money out of fear of federal forfeiture or regulatory retaliation, these businesses are forced to operate in all-cash ¾ pay their workers in cash, store cash in vaults on-site, hire armored trucks to transport cash to pay taxes ¾ which makes this a public safety issue.”
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA):
Proud to cosponsor and vote for @RepPerlmutter's #SAFEBankingAct to allow the legal cannabis industry access to the banking system, rather than forcing them to deal in cash—a major threat to public safety.
This is a positive step forward.https://t.co/975MEo4NX2
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) September 25, 2019
Rep. Katerine Clark (D-MA):
97.7% of Americans live in states where some form of marijuana is legal. It's high time we allow legal businesses to access banks and other financial services, and customers to use credit and debit cards.
— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) September 26, 2019
Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA):
The #SAFEBanking Act:
🗳️Protects states' rights
🏦Allows cannabis businesses to access the banking system
⚖️Reduces crime and increases public safety
It's a critical first step to federally decriminalizing cannabis.
— Rep. Salud Carbajal (@RepCarbajal) September 25, 2019
Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX):
Conflict between state and federal law means legal, legitimate businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, creating a serious public safety risk and providing an opportunity for tax evasion and money laundering. This is why I just voted for the #SAFEBankingAct. pic.twitter.com/wfWo5ukOwL
— Rep. Sylvia Garcia (@RepSylviaGarcia) September 25, 2019
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH):
“The SAFE Banking Act defends civil liberties. Passing this bill keeps the right perspective: No federal regulator should block Americans’ lawful access to the financial system. This principle holds true, whether you are talking about firearms or cannabis. I was an original cosponsor of this bill and welcome its passage. It is incumbent on the Senate to join the House and accomplish this important legislative task.”
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV):
Nevada’s legalization of marijuana has proven that it has a place in the modern market and is valued by consumers; by the people. It’s time we recognize what we have seen in the 11 states that have legalized marijuana and allow this industry access to #SAFEBanking. pic.twitter.com/PmNhnwmUV1
— Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) September 25, 2019
Very proud to have voted on and co-sponsored the SAFE Banking Act. Half of all Cannabis businesses in the US have been robbed and they deserve access to our financial institutions. This is a big step for the business owners of Nevada and their customers who deserve to feel safe.
— Steven Horsford (@StevenHorsford) September 26, 2019
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA):
Last night, the House passed the SAFE Banking act—which will support jobs in California by ensuring that legal marijuana businesses can access our banking system. This is an important step towards full decriminalization.
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) September 26, 2019
Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA):
This week, the House passed the SAFE Banking Act – a bipartisan bill I co-sponsored to give legal cannabis-related businesses in Washington state and across the country the ability to access banking services – improving accountability, transparency, and public safety. Hear why: pic.twitter.com/9NGoRnLXk1
— Rep. Derek Kilmer (@RepDerekKilmer) September 27, 2019
Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV):
Thousands of legal recreational and medical marijuana businesses are forced to deal in piles of cash. Yesterday, the House passed the #SAFEBanking Act, a bipartisan bill I co-led, that fixes this.
— Rep. Susie Lee (@RepSusieLee) September 26, 2019
— Rep. Susie Lee (@RepSusieLee) September 29, 2019
Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO):
Federal law has forced Colorado’s legal cannabis businesses to be cash-only. @RepPerlmutter has been fighting to fix that. Today, the House passed his #SAFEBankingAct to prevent illicit activity and make our community safer. https://t.co/sYI5YhnTrY
— Rep. Jason Crow (@RepJasonCrow) September 25, 2019
Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI):
Nearly 98% of Americans live in states where some form of marijuana is legal. It’s time for our federal laws to catch up to this reality, and allow legal cannabis-related businesses to access banking services. The SAFE Banking Act is a great first step: https://t.co/fd7enSSfvC
— Rep. Haley Stevens (@RepHaleyStevens) September 29, 2019
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA):
This bill will improve safety and provide certainty for thousands of employees and businesses operating in the legal cannabis industry. The Senate should act quickly to pass this important measure. pic.twitter.com/eSpv5kWTvJ
— Mike Thompson (@RepThompson) September 27, 2019
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH):
“Today is a step forward for a common-sense bill that will make communities across the country safer. For me this has nothing to do with the larger debate about marijuana, instead it’s about legislating for the world we live in, and that reality includes legal businesses being forced to assume the huge risks that come from operating exclusively in cash. I’m grateful that my colleagues, especially Representatives Perlmutter, Heck, and Davidson, have seen the importance of providing access to our banking system, and I look forward to the SAFE Banking Act passing the Senate and being signed into law.”
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR):
I have long championed the legalization of hemp businesses and am pleased that this legislation also includes protections for them. https://t.co/aHFSQKxi9g
— Suzanne Bonamici (@RepBonamici) September 25, 2019
Rep. Mark Amondei (R-NV):
Tonight the House passed HR 1595, the #SAFEBankingAct, legislation that will protect public safety while also allowing law enforcement officials and financial regulators to properly monitor legal cannabis transactions. Read my full statement here: https://t.co/lJBFughU9n
— RepMarkAmodei (@MarkAmodeiNV2) September 25, 2019
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D):
“This is an important step in building an accessible, inclusive and socially diverse industry that recognizes the past harms of marijuana prohibition and the disproportionate impact laws governing marijuana have had on communities of color. I commend all the members of the New York Congressional delegation who supported this bill for honoring the laws of the states that are working to safely and fairly legalize and regulate cannabis. It is now time for the Senate to recognize the importance of this emerging sector of our economy and pass the bill immediately.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D):
Thank you Ed Perlmutter for leading the charge to allow full access to banking for legal cannabis companies https://t.co/nurz4dYjle
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) September 25, 2019
Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D):
I urge the Senate to swiftly pass the #SAFEBankingAct to provide #cannabis businesses more certainty and safety and to stop criminal activity that flourishes without oversight: https://t.co/3LusNqe7Bz
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) September 26, 2019
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (D):
It's great to see the SAFE Banking Act getting bipartisan support in the House. In May, I joined 38 AGs in endorsing the bill to bring legal #cannabis firms into the financial system. https://t.co/I3ejLGOiHS
— IA Attorney General (@AGIowa) September 26, 2019
Illinois Treasurer Michael Freichs (D):
Currently, all too often, this is an unsafe, cash-based business in Illinois. Now the Senate must also vote in favor of this bill to allow cannabis businesses access to financial services.
— Michael W. Frerichs (@ILTreasurer) September 26, 2019
Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):
“The SAFE Banking Act will make our communities safer, allow state and local governments to collect taxes more efficiently and transparently, and increase access to capital for small businesses. Today’s vote is a signal that Washington is beginning to catch up with the states and the fastest growing industry in our country.”
Law Enforcement Action Partnership:
“Prohibiting banking access means hundreds of millions of dollars in legal marijuana markets are exchanged in cash rather than with credit or debit cards, which make them more difficult to track. Keeping tabs on those transactions is part of how police are able to catch serious criminals, but our ability to do that right now is limited. The longer we wait to fix this, the more vulnerable the industry becomes to infiltration by organized crime.”
American Bankers Association:
ABA strongly supports the #SAFEBanking Act and resolving the cannabis banking problem. So do:
and many others. pic.twitter.com/8N7cBdrfOy
— American Bankers Association (@ABABankers) September 25, 2019
“Today’s overwhelming, bipartisan House vote in support of the SAFE Banking Act is a significant step forward for public safety, transparency and common sense. By helping to provide clarity for the financial sector in those states where cannabis is legal, this bill will help banks meet the needs of their communities while reducing cash-motivated crimes, increasing the efficiency of tax collections and improving the cannabis industry’s financial accountability. It will also ensure that businesses with indirect ties to the cannabis industry—including vendors, utility companies and law firms—won’t be needlessly forced out of the financial system.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried:
I’m thrilled to see #SAFEBankingAct pass the House.
Allowing legal #cannabis businesses access to financial services will break the stigma I’ve experienced firsthand & let businesses thrive, especially minority/women-owned.
I hope @senatemajldr will support it.
— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) September 25, 2019
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Vanita Gupta:
The House just passed the SAFE Banking Act.
But make no mistake: We need a comprehensive, broad, and bold approach to marijuana reform. We thank @LeaderHoyer, @RepJerryNadler, and @RepMaxineWaters for their commitment to ensuring the House moves forward with one. #WeDeserveMORE pic.twitter.com/XhEtOK4BEZ
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) September 25, 2019
“The failed War on Drugs policies have disproportionately impacted communities of color – particularly African Americans, Latinos, and those who are economically vulnerable. These policies have contributed directly to mass incarceration. The SAFE Banking Act does not holistically repair the current harms posed by prohibition, nor does it invest in communities directly impacted by discriminatory criminalization. We urge the Senate to include provisions in its bill that will forge a more equitable path for communities that remain excluded from the booming marijuana industry. We thank Leader Hoyer and Chairs Nadler and Waters for their commitment to ensuring that the House takes up a comprehensive, broad, and bold approach to marijuana reform. We implore the Senate to follow their lead.”
Center for American Progress Senior Policy Analyst Maritza Perez:
“Today’s vote may be a release valve for financial institutions, but it does nothing to relieve the decades of harm caused to communities of color affected by the drug war. Following today’s vote, we call on Congress to collectively turn its efforts to equitable marijuana legislation that should include removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and making way for the expungement and resentencing of marijuana convictions. Congress must also consider using marijuana tax revenue to bring services to communities most affected by the drug war, as well as grant programs supporting underrepresented business owners in the cannabis industry as modeled in the MORE Act. Congress has the opportunity to pass comprehensive marijuana legislation that leads with social justice and equity with the MORE Act. We urge Chairman Nadler and House leadership to promptly mark up the MORE Act and bring it to the floor for a vote.”
Veterans Cannabis Project Executive Director Doug Distaso:
“Today’s historic House passage of the SAFE Banking Act is an important first step toward eliminating the stigma around an industry that is providing essential medical treatment options for veterans. This legislation will ensure protections for veterans’ GI Bill benefits and allow them to seek well-paying jobs in a rapidly growing industry. I will be working diligently with my fellow veterans in the coming weeks to ensure the Senate understands the positive impact that cannabis has on veterans’ lives. As service members return with issues ranging from chronic pain to PTSD, many are finding cannabis is a treatment option that improves their quality of life and reduces their symptoms, without the negative side effects of opiates and other prescriptions.”
The Arcview Group CEO Troy Dayton:
“We are extremely encouraged by these cannabis reforms passed by the House. It would be a game changer for this developing industry and we are hopeful that the Senate follows suit. Legal cannabis businesses, which employ more than 165,000 people, would finally be able to operate safely, develop and grow their businesses. This step forward begins to pave the way for legal, regulated cannabis businesses to open up a plethora of opportunities, which were previously unavailable. The measure would also have a profound, positive impact on the investment landscape, patients and consumers. For years, Arcview has been working towards and supporting this moment. We applaud the progress taken by our regulators and industry and look forward to more reforms being fully enacted.”
Credit Union National Association President Jim Nussle:
“Today’s landmark vote will help credit unions keep communities across the country safe and serve those state-legalized businesses previously left in the lurch. We offer our congratulations and appreciation to Representatives Perlmutter, Heck, Stivers, Davidson and others who have worked on this critical issue for so long. Our work is not done: We are ready to work in the Senate to advance legislation on this issue to the President’s desk.”
Independent Community Bankers of America President Rebeca Romero Rainey:
“The conflict between state and federal law on cannabis-related businesses has created significant legal and compliance concerns for financial institutions that could provide needed banking services to these companies. This uncertainty has forced cannabis-related businesses to operate mostly in cash, which presents a significant public safety risk. The bipartisan SAFE Banking Act would help eliminate this risk in states where cannabis is already legal.”
Bernie Sanders Congratulates Canada On One-Year Marijuana Legalization Anniversary
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered his congratulations to Canada on Thursday, marking the one-year anniversary of the country’s implementation of a legal marijuana market.
“Congratulations to our neighbors to the north on completing their first year of marijuana legalization!” the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said on Twitter. “Vermont shares a border with Canada, and as far as I can tell, the sky has not fallen and the cities have not plunged into anarchy on the other side.”
Congratulations to our neighbors to the north on completing their first year of marijuana legalization! Vermont shares a border with Canada, and as far as I can tell, the sky has not fallen and the cities have not plunged into anarchy on the other side. https://t.co/O5qnBHrwCZ
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 17, 2019
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made cannabis legalization a key campaign promise, and while it took longer than some had anticipated, lawmakers approved a historic reform bill in June 2018. It went into effect on October 17 last year.
He also acknowledged the anniversary on Thursday, stating at a press conference that the decision “to keep our communities safer and remove profits of the pockets of organized crime was the right one.”
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaking in Quebec earlier on the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational cannabis possession and use.
— Seán O’Shea (@ConsumerSOS) October 17, 2019
It’s not clear how much of a boost that achievement will give Trudeau when voters head to the polls on Monday for a national election that could see the Liberal Party removed from the majority as the prime minister faces backlash over controversies such as revelations he on several occasions wore blackface and brownface.
But regardless of the election outcome, leaders from all parties—including the Conservatives, all of whom voted against the legalization bill in the Senate except one—have said they would not reverse the law. Instead, one of the main drug policy issues that have separated the leaders is their respective positions on decriminalizing possession of substances beyond marijuana.
Trudeau and Sanders share a personal opposition to the reform move, with the senator stating on two occasions recently that he’s “not there yet” on the issue. The prime minister has similarly stated that decriminalization is not on his agenda and that he remains focus on cannabis.
The New Democratic Party and its leader, Jagmeet Singh, are in favor of broad drug decriminalization, as are the Green Party and its leader Elizabeth May.
The issue also came up during a Democratic presidential debate in the U.S. on Tuesday. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) both expressed support for decriminalizing possession of opioids.
Sanders didn’t weigh in on the issue at that debate, but when asked to address his recent health episode, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) chimed in to joke that “Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana, I want to make sure that’s clear as well.”
“I do,” Sanders said, adding that “I’m not on it tonight.”
Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder.
Key GOP Senate Chairman Outlines Changes He Wants For Marijuana Banking Bill
The head of the Senate Banking Committee is clarifying which aspects of a House-passed marijuana banking bill he would like to change as his panel moves toward taking up the legislation.
In a Thursday interview with Marijuana Moment on Capitol Hill, Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) described modifications he is working on to the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which cleared the House along bipartisan lines in a 321-103 vote last month.
“The things we’re looking at are, first of all, to make sure we improve and clarify the interstate banking application of all of this,” Crapo said. “Secondly, money laundering issues with regard to legacy cash to make sure how that is managed properly. [Financial Crimes Enforcement Network] issues and other related issues. And then finally the health and safety issues about what is going to be banked.”
“Take tobacco for example, every state I think has some kind of regulatory parameters around the utilization of tobacco, even if it’s just an age limit on who can purchase it or what have you and the types of products that are going to be allowed,” he continued. “That gets into a legal issue that I think the states need to be more engaged in, but it also impacts the question on what would be banked. Those kinds of issues—health and safety, interstate commerce and money laundering.”
While it’s not exactly clear which language changes Crapo has in mind for the House-passed legislation, his reference to “health and safety issues about what is going to be banked” could refer to certain restrictions on cannabis businesses that want to store their profits in financial institutions, or even requirements that states enact certain policies in order for operators within their jurisdictions to qualify.
In response to another reporter’s question about the spike in vaping-related injuries, the chairman said that’s “a good example of one of the big concerns that I have that we need to address in the bill, which is the health and safety aspects of the use.”
“We are working to revise the bill and develop the support for the bill to move forward,” he said.
Crapo first announced last month that he’d like to take up legislation addressing the issue in his panel before the end of the year and that the reform measure will likely enjoy bipartisan support in the full Senate. However, he’s held off on endorsing the SAFE Banking Act as currently written. His committee held a hearing on banking concerns in the cannabis industry in July.
“We’re working to try to get a bill ready,” the senator perviously told Politico. “I’m looking to see whether we can thread the needle.”
If the Banking Committee does pass legislation protecting banks that service state-legal cannabis businesses from being penalized by federal regulators, it may encounter resistance in the full Senate from some pro-legalization lawmakers such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), each of whom have said comprehensive marijuana reform that addresses social equity should be prioritized over legislation that’s viewed as primarily friendly to industry stakeholders.
Crapo also told Marijuana Moment on Thursday that he has not spoken to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about a low-key trip the top GOP senator took to California last week, during which he met marijuana industry representatives and reportedly toured a cannabis-related business.
McConnell’s buy-in will be key to advancing the cannabis banking legislation to President Trump’s desk if it moves through Crapo’s committee.
Aaron Houston contributed reporting for this story from Washington, D.C.
Governors Of Northeastern States Adopt Coordinated Marijuana Legalization Plan
A group of governors representing states across the Northeast convened on Thursday for a marijuana summit at which they agreed to basic principles for legal cannabis programs they plan to pursue in 2020.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) organized the meeting. They were joined by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who came out in favor of legalization last month. Representatives from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Colorado also attended.
“This is a very important topic,” Cuomo said in his opening statement. “It is probably one of the most challenging issues that I know I’ve had to address in the state of New York. It is complicated, it is controversial and it is consequential. That is a very difficult and challenging combination.”
Great that leaders from RI, CO, and Mass. are here also.
Can't wait for what will be a very meaningful policy discussion.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) October 17, 2019
“It’s consequential because if you do not do it right, you can do harm, and the whole purpose here is to do good,” he said.
The summit is being broken up into five sessions: on vaping and related issues, market regulation and social justice issues, public health consequences of cannabis, public safety issues and a “best practices” panel led by Colorado representatives.
“The point is, this is a challenge for all of us,” Cuomo said. “There is a desire to do this. I believe the people of this state and our surrounding states have a desire to do it. But the old expression the devil is in the details, how you do this makes all the difference. And as I said it can be a positive if done right, it can be a negative if it is not done correctly.”
Lamont, who also talked cannabis with Cuomo during a fishing trip in August and again during a meeting last month, said the current “patchwork quilt” approach that states have taken to marijuana regulations is “unconscionable” and emphasized the need for regional coordination.
Today I'll be meeting with @NYGovCuomo of #NY, @GovMurphy of #NJ, @GovernorTomWolf of #PA, and officials representing #RI and #MA to discuss the emerging health concerns of vaping, as well as opportunities to legalize and standardize recreational marijuana on a regional basis. pic.twitter.com/P9bkAjZWGV
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) October 17, 2019
“This makes sense: sitting down, working together, working together with New Jersey, working with Pennsylvania and our other neighbors to make sure that what we do, we do it on a standardized basis, we do it on a well-regulated basis with health and safety paramount,” the governor said. “I think we’re much stronger when we work together and that’s what this meeting is all about.”
The governors agreed to determine an ideal tax scheme for marijuana and impose certain limitations on licensing to “ensure a fair and competitive market.” The taxes will also be designed to prevent an increase in consumption.
Importantly, the officials said their systems will include “social equity initiatives to ensure industry access to those who have been disproportionately impacted by the prohibition of cannabis” and to prioritize “small and diverse businesses’ participation in the cannabis industry.”
Another policy calls for the implementation of “meaningful social justice reform with regard to cannabis policy, including expediting expungements or pardons, waiving fees associated with expungements or pardons and securing legislation to support these reforms.”
In terms of public health, the governors were in consensus about imposing restrictions on modes of cannabis consumption and advertising. They said they will prohibit advertising that targets youth and create “strict penalties” for selling marijuana to those under 21. Public education campaigns will also be utilized “ to inform youth and the general public about the health and safety consequences of cannabis use.”
To ensure public safety, the governors said they agreed to have uniform standards for law enforcement trained as drug recognition experts to identify impaired driving. Methods will be developed to target the illicit market and identify “bad actors” in the industry.
Congress should pass a bill allowing banks to service marijuana businesses, they said.
“So long as it remains difficult to open and maintain bank accounts, the state-legal marijuana industry will largely rely on cash to conduct business and operate, which results in public safety issues and creates unique burdens for legal marijuana businesses,” the core principles document says.
The officials also agreed to a set of regulations for vaping products, including a ban or strict regulations on flavored cartridges, preventing the use of adulterants, imposing labeling requirements and increasing enforcement against retailers that sell vaping products to those under 21.
All told, the agreed-upon policies are likely to appeal to reform advocates, as nothing especially controversial made it into the list of principles. There were some concerns that a ban on home cultivation or smokable marijuana products would be included, as Cuomo recently hinted he might push for the latter policy.
“Cooperating as a coalition of states on these issues is the best path forward—as we not only share borders, but we share economic interests, public health priorities, and a joint understanding that the more states that work together on these kinds of issues, the better the policy results will be for our residents,” Lamont said.
When states work together collaboratively, carefully and thoughtfully we can create better policies. pic.twitter.com/wzfUXqbxco
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) October 17, 2019
Wolf noted that his administration had recently concluded a statewide listening tour to hear from residents about proposals to legalize cannabis and said that based on that input, “we need to bring this into the open.”
Thankful for the opportunity to have this meaningful policy discussion so we can better serve our citizens and keep them safe.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) October 17, 2019
“We need regulation, we need to make sure we’re protecting public health, public safety. But that’s regulation, not prohibition,” he said. “It’s also really important that we work together as a region to make sure that we’re on the same page.”
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), who led the statewide cannabis tour, was also present at the summit.
Truly honored to attend with @GovernorTomWolf to discuss regional strategies on cannabis.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) October 17, 2019
Murphy emphasized that “doing things in an intelligent, coordinated, harmonious way is good for the entirety of not just our states but our residents.” He added that there are two main issues the leaders must tackle: combating the spike in vaping-related injuries and promoting social justice.
Our states are stronger when we work together. Join me live at the Regional Cannabis and Vaping Policy Summit with @NYGovCuomo, @GovernorTomWolf, and @GovNedLamont as we work to align our policies on adult-use marijuana legalization and vaping.https://t.co/aWlGehcNWA
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) October 17, 2019
“We’ve got a shocking gap between persons incarcerated in our system along racial lines, and it’s almost entirely due to low-end marijuana offenses,” he said. “Putting aside all of the other factors that come into the cannabis discussion, the social justice, at least in New Jersey, screams out at us and it’s why we’ve come to the table with such passion.”
Proud to join @NYGovCuomo, @GovernorTomWolf, and @GovNedLamont for the Regional Cannabis and Vaping Policy Summit. Working together, we can collaborate on vaping regulations while forging a comprehensive, justice-oriented vision for adult-use marijuana legalization in our region. pic.twitter.com/zD5qJWuFuq
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) October 17, 2019
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) also participated.
It was great participating in the Cannabis & Vaping Regulation Summit w/ leaders from across the northeast – if we want to regulate vaping or cannabis effectively, we need to take a regional approach! @NYGovCuomo @GovernorTomWolf @GovRaimondo @CharlieBakerMA @NedLamont @GovMurphy pic.twitter.com/xzqWOdxvjZ
— Steve Sweeney (@NJSenatePres) October 17, 2019
“In the absence of federal leadership, Governors are coming together and taking a regional approach to vaping and cannabis regulations,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), who did not attend the summit herself, said in a press release. “The principles we’ve agreed to today will allow us to better coordinate our efforts as we address some of the most challenging issues facing our states. Through this partnership, we will work together to protect families from the dangers posed by the illicit cannabis market and vaping.”
Following the opening statements, panels led by experts were invited to testify about their respective cannabis and vaping-related topics for five minutes and then answer questions. While the governors’ opening statements were livestreamed online, the discussion sessions were closed to press.
The list of principles that came out of the summit was released Thursday afternoon.
The governors each represent states where lawmakers have unsuccessfully attempted to legalize marijuana. Efforts stalled in New York following months of negotiation between Cuomo and the legislature, with disagreements centering on issues such as tax rates and how revenue would be earmarked.
In New Jersey, bids to legalize cannabis for adult use failed, with lawmakers suggesting they might advance the issue through a referendum for voters to decide on next year.
Pennsylvania lawmakers discussed a legalization bill during a joint Senate and House Democratic Policy Committee in April, but that did not materialize either. However, following the listening tour and with the backing of Wolf, a comprehensive piece of legalization legislation that was introduced on Tuesday is believed to stand a better chance.
This story has been updated to include additional comments and information about legalization principles the governors agreed to.
Photo courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.