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A brand new chair of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee could pump contemporary life into stalled cannabis banking reform – even when Republicans keep management of the higher chamber when the following Congress convenes in January.
Cannabis banking reform would pave the best way for marijuana companies to realize entry to conventional monetary providers, which might be a sport changer for the business. Most marijuana companies deal primarily with money.
To that finish, marijuana business officers are heartened that the seemingly incoming chair of the Senate banking committee, Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, is open to laws that might enable monetary establishments to serve MJ companies with out concern of federal reprisal.
“He provides a much more realistic pathway through that committee than we had with (current Senate Banking Chair) Mike Crapo,” stated David Mangone, director of coverage and authorities affairs for The Liaison Group, a Washington DC agency that lobbies for the National Cannabis Roundtable.
Crapo, an Idaho Republican who’s term-limited as committee chair, did maintain a listening to on cannabis banking entry however had points with the SAFE Banking Act that the House of Representatives handed in 2019.
At one level, Crapo was contemplating some onerous provisions as a part of a possible different model, resembling a 2% THC efficiency cap on cannabis merchandise for companies to be eligible for monetary providers.
Currently, THC ranges of 12% or extra usually are seen on retail cabinets in state-legal markets.
Toomey’s phrases present a more optimistic tone, business officers agreed.
Toomey instructed Politico final week that he was “sympathetic to the idea that people who are involved in (the) cannabis industry – in an entirely legal fashion, in the state in which they operate – ought to be able to have ordinary banking services. That’s my starting point, and then there’s a lot of details to work out, but I am open to that.”
The best path to cannabis banking reform could be if Democrats gained management of the U.S. Senate by successful each Georgia Senate runoff seats on Jan. 5. But it’s unclear whether or not that can occur.
Toomey reassuring to MJ stakeholders
Industry officers resembling Kim Rivers, CEO of Florida-based marijuana firm Trulieve and second vice chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable, are inspired by Toomey’s phrases.
“It’s clear that cannabis reform can cross party lines and lead to sound, modern approaches to unlocking the industry’s potential,” she stated in a news release issued by the National Cannabis Roundtable.
Steve Hawkins, government director of DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, stated in a current interview that cannabis banking reform is important to enabling small companies – together with women- and minority-owned enterprises – to get the entry to capital they should function and develop MJ companies.
Besides his encouraging feedback, Toomey represents Pennsylvania, a state that has a profitable, fast-growing medical cannabis program and a governor intent on legalizing grownup use.
“(Toomey) recognizes there are legal (marijuana) businesses in his state that are struggling with the financial side of things,” Mangone stated.
COVID-19 aid invoice could be key
Industry officers nonetheless maintain out hope that the cannabis banking situation could be settled this yr as a part of the following coronavirus aid package deal.
The newest House coronavirus aid measure incorporates the SAFE Banking Act.
“SAFE is one of the few pieces in the relief bill that actually would decrease the deficit, increase revenues, and help public safety,” Mangone stated.
Aaron Klein, coverage director on the Brookings Institution’s Center on Regulation and Markets, told the American Banker commerce publication that it’s additionally helpful that voters in a number of conservative states handed marijuana legalization initiatives on Election Day.
“Election results showing big wins for cannabis in deep red states like South Dakota and Mississippi are a reminder that cannabis is not a partisan issue,” Klein stated.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stays a possible impediment to any sort of marijuana reform, so Republican colleagues resembling Toomey seemingly must put stress on the Republican senator from Kentucky to permit a ground vote.
McConnell beforehand was snide concerning the SAFE Banking Act being included within the $2 trillion-plus House coronavirus aid invoice.
He slammed the first House version of the aid invoice for utilizing the phrase “cannabis” 68 occasions – “more times than the word ‘job’ and four times as many as the word ‘hire.’”
Jeff Smith could be reached at [email protected]