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Majority Of Americans Say Marijuana Banking Bill Would Promote Public Safety And Help Underserved Communities, Financial Association Poll Finds



A strong majority of Americans agree that passing a marijuana banking bill would improve public safety, according to a new poll commissioned by Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA).

The survey, conducted by Morning Consult, found that 64 percent of Americans feel the provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act to allow cannabis businesses to access the banking system will “help improve public safety.”

A second question in the poll noted that some cannabis-related businesses are owned and led by people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community, asking respondents whether “opening the banking system to cannabis-related businesses would help these underserved communities.” Fifty-four percent agreed.

As Senate leadership works to advance the legislation, which cleared committee last September, the ICBA poll that was released last week underscores that the proposal enjoys sizable public support.

ICBA has long advocated for the bipartisan cannabis banking legislation and commissioned several polls consistently demonstrating its popularity. The association’s president, Rebeca Romero Rainey, said in a press release that this latest survey featuring questions on cannabis banking and other policies of concern for the association shows that “Americans from coast to coast support our views on key policy issues.”

“With polling conducted by Morning Consult showing Americans understand the importance of these issues in ensuring continued access to locally based banking, ICBA is proud to continue helping community banks advocate in Washington and power the potential of local communities nationwide,” she said.

The polling is consistent with findings from a separate American Bankers Association (ABA) survey released last month that found 63 percent of Americans back cannabis businesses banking access, compared to just 17 percent who are opposed.

A prior ABA survey, in 2022, found 66 percent of people either strongly (37 percent) or somewhat (29 percent) supported marijuana banking reform, while 16 percent either strongly (8 percent) or somewhat (8 percent) opposed it. Nineteen percent of respondents last year said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion.

A separate ABA poll earlier in 2022 found that 68 percent of respondents felt Capitol Hill should act.

ICBA, meanwhile, also hosted a summit in Washington, D.C. this week, where House Financial Services Committee Chairman Vice Chair French Hill (R-AR) discussed ongoing bipartisan collaboration on a cryptocurrency regulations bill that certain lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), hope will be merged with the SAFER Banking Act.

Hill said last week that he’d support a hybrid marijuana banking and cryptocurrency bill, saying “our country will benefit” if both reforms are enacted.

There have also been talks about attaching both measures to a must-pass Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. But those plans are meeting some opposition, with a Senate aide telling Marijuana Moment on Monday that Republican leadership is proactively opposing that possibility.

A spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) separately told Marijuana Moment that the senator, who is considered a legislative gatekeeper in the GOP caucus, “continues to oppose marijuana banking.” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is also reportedly against the move to attach cannabis banking to the aviation legislation.

The U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC) said in a leaked internal email to members last week that their sources said that lawmakers have abandoned plans to pursue the SAFER Banking Act through the FAA bill.

But Schumer is still pushing to get cannabis banking attached to the legislation, and there are still options on the table to move the SAFER Banking Act. Supporters aren’t giving up hope just yet that McConnell—who championed provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill to federally legalize hemp—can be swayed to let the marijuana financial services reform advance.

Meanwhile, last week Schumer once again included the bipartisan marijuana banking bill in a list of legislative priorities he hopes to advance this year.

Since the Senate recently approved must-pass appropriations legislation and foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, there are heightened expectations that floor action could be on the horizon.

Adding to those expectations is the recent introduction of a bill to incentivize expungements for past cannabis offenses at the state, local and tribal levels. Schumer has made clear he intends to attach that measure to the banking legislation on the floor.

Schumer also recently asked people to show their support for the SAFER Banking Act by signing a petition as he steps up his push for the legislation. A poll released last month by the American Bankers Association (ABA) shows that roughly three out of five Americans support allowing marijuana industry access to the banking system.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that that “if Republicans want to keep the House,” they should pass the marijuana banking bill, arguing that “there are votes” to approve it.

Schumer told Marijuana Moment last month that the bill remains a “very high priority” for the Senate, and members are having “very productive” bicameral talks to reach a final agreement.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said last month that passing the SAFER Banking Act off the floor is a “high priority.” However, he also recently said in a separate interview that advancing the legislation is complicated by current House dynamics.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) separately said during a recent American Bankers Association (ABA) summit that he wants to see the SAFER Banking Act move.

He said that, “for whatever reason, the federal government has been slow” to act on the incremental reform that he supports even though he doesn’t identify as “a marijuana guy.”

One key factor that’s kept the bill from the Senate floor is disagreement over mostly non-cannabis provisions dealing with broader banking regulations, primarily those contained in Section 10 of the legislation.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 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.

Bicameral negotiations have been ongoing, however, and recent reporting suggests that a final deal could be just over the horizon.

The Democratic Senate sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), told Marijuana Moment last month that the legislation is “gaining momentum” as lawmakers work to bring it to the floor and pass it “this year.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, founding co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last week that, “every day we’re closer on SAFE Banking, and negotiations “are ongoing in the House and Senate, and we are, in fact, making progress.”

At the close of the first half of the 118th Congress in December, Schumer said in a floor speech that lawmakers would “hit the ground running” in 2024, aiming to build on bipartisan progress on several key issues, including marijuana banking reform—though he noted it “won’t be easy.”

Top House Democrat Says Marijuana Rescheduling Is A ‘Step In The Right Direction,’ While GOP Leader Opposes Reform

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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