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Top GOP Congressman Backs Passing Marijuana Banking Bill Paired With Cryptocurrency Reform, Saying ‘Our Country Will Benefit’



The Republican vice chair of the House Financial Services Committee says he would support a hybrid marijuana banking and cryptocurrency regulation bill, saying “our country will benefit” if both reforms are enacted.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Rep. French Hill (R-AR) was asked to weigh in on ongoing talks about merging the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act and the cryptocurrency legislation.

“I would vote for if it were coupled. I have supported the SAFE Banking Act for nine years in Congress now, which would allow cannabis dealers in states where it’s legal to have access to the banking system,” Hill, who’s twice voted for the cannabis legislation on the House floor, said. “I think it’s a lot easier to catch bad actors and illegal activity if those companies are participating in the banking system.”

“If someone’s trying to take advantage of legal cannabis in an illegal way, it’s a lot better to have those companies participating in the banking system,” he said, adding that he agrees with recent remarks from the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), that legislation is close to being finalized.

Hill was also asked about the prospect of including the reforms in a must-pass Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill—a possibility that a top marijuana industry group said is no longer being considered in an internal message to stakeholders last week.

“I think that’s a call that leadership has to make,” the congressman said. “I think there are other ways that we can do it during the course of the year. But if we get an agreement, then House and Senate leadership can work on the best floor strategy for moving the legislation forward.”

“Bottom line is we’ve made a lot of progress in the last year,” he said. “Our country will benefit if we get both these bills passed.”

Meanwhile, last week Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) 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.

The congresswoman also told the majority leader to “stop holding” the SAFER Banking Act as a “campaign carrot” in a social media post on Monday.

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.”

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