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Schumer Circulates Petition For Marijuana Banking Bill As Pressure Builds For Vote



Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is asking people to show their support for a marijuana banking bill by signing a petition as he steps up his push for the legislation. In a new email about the effort, he also reiterated his support for comprehensive federal cannabis legalization.

With Congress positioned to pass a final package of appropriations legislation for the current fiscal year, lawmakers have been renewing their call to move the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act. And in an email blast on Friday, Schumer again leaned into the issue.

“Can you imagine running a business without being able to deposit your money anywhere?” the email says. “That’s the reality for law-abiding marijuana businesses across the country.”

“In states where marijuana is legal, these businesses have extremely limited access to basic banking services like deposits or lines of credit. They’re forced to keep massive amounts of cash on hand—a danger for everyone involved,” it continues. “Banks are nervous to interact with legal marijuana businesses because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.”

“I firmly believe that we should legalize marijuana. But while I continue pushing for legalization, these businesses need our immediate support,” Schumer said in the email promoting the online petition, which is a common list-building tactic for campaign fundraising. “Sign on to support the SAFER Banking Act and make sure marijuana business owners can access basic banking services.”

Completing the sign-on form then takes people to a brief questionnaire inquiring about their familiarity with the cannabis banking issue.

“Did you know about 90 percent of U.S. banks deny service to marijuana businesses?” one question asks.

“Did you know that if marijuana businesses do manage to get a bank account, they’re often charged sky-high service fees to cover the bank’s liability?” another prompt says.

“Senate Democrats are looking out for small business owners and fighting to end the unjust criminalization of marijuana. Will you help protect our Democratic Senate Majority to keep making progress on these issues?” it concludes, listing donation options.

The ball is currently in Schumer’s court. The Senate Banking Committee approved the bipartisan cannabis legislation last September, and now it’s a matter of scheduling it for floor action before it’s potentially sent over to the House, which has passed earlier versions of the proposal in some form seven times in recent sessions.

But at least in terms of messaging, lawmakers seem freshly optimistic about the bill’s prospects.

Schumer told Marijuana Moment earlier this 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) also said on Thursday 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 an American Bankers Association (ABA) summit on Tuesday 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.

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 this month that the legislation is “gaining momentum” as lawmakers work to bring it to the floor and pass it “this year.”

The office of the Republican SAFER Banking prime sponsor, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), separately told Marijuana Moment that “conversations have been productive and Senator Daines is working to get the bill across the finish line.”

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.

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.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) signed on as a cosponsor of the SAFER Banking Act this month, becoming the 36th member of the chamber to add their name to the legislation in addition to its lead sponsor.

If the SAFER Banking Act does make it to the Senate floor this year, it’s expected to be amended. For example, Schumer has discussed the “moral responsibility” of further amending it to add provisions on state-legal cannabis expungements and gun rights for cannabis consumers.

Separately, the original sponsor of the first cannabis banking reform bill, former Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), spoke with Marijuana Moment last month about his work with a national marijuana group lobbying on the legislation. He said he remains “hopeful” that there’s enough time and momentum to enact the measure this year.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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