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BREAKING: Senate Committee Approves Cannabis Banking Reform In Historic Vote

Published 27/09/2023, 15:32
© Reuters.  BREAKING: Senate Committee Approves Cannabis Banking Reform In Historic Vote
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Benzinga - by Maureen Meehan, Benzinga Editor.

The Senate Banking Committee approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act Wednesday, marking a regulatory milestone that has been in the works for nearly a decade. The bill is crafted to enable legal cannabis businesses access to banks and financial institutions, which up to now have been off limits.

"It's been quite a journey," said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

The 14-9 vote provides the bill with sufficient bipartisan support to pass through the broader Senate, which has been the main hurdle for getting this essential piece of regulatory reform over the finish line. Indeed, this is the first time the Senate has taken up the cannabis banking bill, which was crafted in the House over the last several years, never having made it to the Senate floor.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), passed the committee one week after it was filed with revisions that were meant to bolster its bipartisan buy-in.

“The key to addressing this risk is by ensuring that all legal businesses have access to the banking system,” Daines said.

Several senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), spoke strongly about the social inequities regarding past and present policing over illegal cannabis possession but also the fairness of the marijuana industry.

Warnock, who supported the SAFER bill, says he hopes the bill will help those who have been most affected by the war on drugs.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) agreed and added that cannabis should be removed from its status as a Schedule I drug. In late August, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended loosening restrictions on cannabis.

Now What? The bill will now move to a full Senate floor vote.

Want to watch more about the cannabis bill and what it means for the industry? Tune in to the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago live. For existing subscribers, you can get direct access through our research platform. For new users, you can get instant access here!

© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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