U.S. senators representing Colorado are adding their voices to calls for marijuana banking reform to be included in must-pass defense legislation. In a letter sent to Senate committee leadership on Wednesday, Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) noted that the House passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with the banking amendment, and argued that language should be adopted by negotiators in the conference for the final legislation sent to President Joe Biden’s desk. This comes one day after bipartisan members of the Senate Armed Services Committee sent their own letter urging leaders to include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the final NDAA. “Without federally-approved banking services, state-licensed cannabis businesses cannot write checks, make or receive electronic payments, utilize a payroll provider, or accept credit and debit cards,” the new letter from the Colorado senators says. “This is a serious public safety risk for our communities, inviting theft, tax evasion, robberies, burglaries, or worse.” The senators made the case for how the lack of cannabis banking affects their state, which in 2012 became one of the first in the nation to legalize marijuana. “Legalization has had a profound impact on our state’s economy, supporting over 35,000 jobs and bringing in more than $1 billion in tax revenue,” they wrote. “In Denver, cannabis businesses make up less than 1% of all local businesses but accounted for 10% of reported business burglaries from 2012 to 2016. Cash-only industries also complicate tracking revenues for purposes of taxation and regulatory compliance.”The SAFE Banking Act has been approved in some form in the House five times now, but it’s so far languished in the Senate. Stakeholders have held out hope that the chamber would advance the legislation with a Democratic majority, but some key players like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have insisted on passing comprehensive legalization—like a reform bill he’s finalizing—first.
Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment, 11/26/2021 08:31:00