The House sponsor of a bipartisan marijuana banking bill said he would continue to push for the measure’s inclusion as part of a sweeping defense bill — and that that support is set to be bolstered by a new “positive” analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that found the reform would save taxpayers’ money if passed. He also touched on a possible broader cannabis omnibus bill that is being discussed that could include this reform and others.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) spoke about the Safe and Fair Banking Act (SAFE) at a House Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday. For the second year in a row, the congressman filed an amendment to add cannabis banking language to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) the panel is considering.
“I’m trying to find every possible way to get this done so that fewer people are killed,” Perlmutter said, referring to deadly cash-intensive dispensary robberies. “And that involves international cartels, so that’s really the connection to the NDAA, the international criminal component of that.”
The congressman made similar arguments as he lobbied for SAFE Banking under last year’s NDAA. The House included the measure in its version of this bill at the time, but could not reach an agreement with the Senate to pass it as part of the final package.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he agreed with Perlmutter that the issue is “of critical importance, and it is deeply troubling to me that we can’t get the Senate to agree with us and address this.However, while the rules committee is working on nearly 1,200 amendments to the NDAA, it has signaled that there is a chance that SAFE Banking not be enacted through the vehicle again this time despite their mutual agreement that it should be.
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Prominent Armed Services Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) said he also supports the banking measure as a stand-alone bill and amendment, but “the problem” is that the majority leader in Senate Chuck Schumer (D-NY) poses an obstacle as he continues to push for more comprehensive reform before advancing progressive legislation.
Perlmutter also said that “there is hope that we can move forward with SAFE Banking as the nucleus of a slightly broader type of effort” outside of the NDAA. He described what is effectively a marijuana omnibus of modest reforms that would be considered in high-level bicameral talks.
Cannabis banking could be a key part of this package, which could also include provisions for marijuana research for military veterans, cannabis industry access to federal Small Business Administration (SBA) ) and urge states to erase past marijuana records, Perlmutter said.
“In a perfect world, this will advance to the Senate. I’m pretty sure we have the votes here in the House to pass something like this, where it’s not as broad as some of the things the majority leader has been talking about, but it’s substantial,” a- he declared. “Hopefully that’s the approach we’re taking, otherwise we have to pursue through the NDAA, where there’s a relevant component.”
There is no doubt that the SAFE Banking Act enjoys bipartisan support, based on the six times it has passed the House in one form or another and the co-sponsors the companion bill has in the Senate.
But between Schumer’s insistence on enacting comprehensive reform first and the reluctance of Republican minority leaders in the chamber over marijuana issues, the prospects for the measure moving through the president’s office remain uncertain.
Many stakeholders and advocates had hoped that banking language would be included in the final report of a manufacturing bill called the America COMPETES Act that is currently in bicameral conference, but leaders recently reached an agreement for the exclude during negotiations. That’s why Perlmutter is re-submitting it as an amendment to the NDAA.
He said the “same basic principles apply” to this amendment as last year, with respect to the public safety aspects of the reform proposal. What’s different about this cycle, he said, is that his office received a CBO score that shows the measure is “actually bringing money to the United States.”
Whether the CBO’s opinion will change the political dynamic in the Senate remains to be seen, but Perlmutter’s office confirmed to Marijuana Moment that they received a score that showed the SAFE Banking Act would result in savings of approximately $500,000. $ over a period of 10 years. period (2022-2032). However, a staff member was unable to share the text of the analysis and CBO did not respond to a query before press time.
The marijuana banking legislation is just one of dozens of drug policy-related proposals the Rules Committee is considering on Tuesday. The jury will determine which, if any, will be made for consideration.
Lawmakers tried to tie drug policy reform to the NDAA last session, with mixed results. For the fiscal year 2023 bill, however, there appeared to be even broader bipartisan interest in using the defense bill as a vehicle for cannabis and psychedelics policy.
Two marijuana-related measures have already been added to the NDAA in the House Armed Services Committee, including one from Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) that concerns cannabis sentencing standards under the military code, requiring that the Military Justice Review Board “develop recommendations specifying appropriate sentencing ranges for offenses involving the use and possession of marijuana.
Another amendment sponsored by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to research marijuana as an alternative to opioids for service members with certain health conditions.
Other changes relate to policies such as VA home loan benefits for veterans who use medical cannabis and allow VA doctors to fill out medical marijuana referrals, for example.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan bill to provide military veterans with access to medical marijuana was reintroduced in Congress last month, with Rep. Earl Blumeanuer (D-OR) and Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) as main sponsors.
The reform, which is identical to committee-approved versions of previous years and also co-sponsored by Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), was previously pursued through the supply process as an amendment. .
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