Senators of both major parties are supporting a proposal to tuck key marijuana banking legislation into a larger package aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness, increasing the odds that a significant cannabis bill gets through the upper chamber this year, the Hill reports. Sen. Patty Murray (WA}, third-ranking Senate Democrat, is leading a push to pass the SAFE Banking Act, which would enable cannabis firms to use banking services, as part of a sweeping package lawmakers are hashing out that is intended to bolster supply chains and manufacturing. While the cannabis measure was not included in the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act that passed the Senate, it was featured in the House’s version of the bill, known as the COMPETES Act, that passed in February. Murray says she is “fighting every which way” to get the cannabis legislation included in the final bill. She noted that federal law currently forces weed dispensaries to use cash, making them prime targets for robberies.
Several senators are pushing to include the bill, which has passed the House six times and has dozens of Democratic cosponsors in the upper chamber, in the broader competition bill. “The bottom line is that banking bill’s been out there for a long time. It’s ready to go. It needs to pass,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), a member of the conference committee and a cosponsor of the SAFE Banking Act said. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), who previously blocked SAFE Banking over concerns that its passage would hurt the prospects of wider reforms, hopes to unveil the text of his comprehensive bill to legalize marijuana and expunge federal pot convictions, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAO).