Most people missed the biggest news about cannabis reform…
I’ve been writing all year about the big momentum shift for cannabis reform in the government. The House of Representatives has made good progress on bills to ease banking restrictions, increase protection for cannabis producers operating by the laws of their states, and much more.
And it’s true that these were all major steps. This is the most the House has ever done for cannabis, so it’s nice to see how far along the industry has progressed.
But I’ve also been tempering my expectations because I was concerned about the Senate.
The Senate is where bills – good and bad – go to die.
In particular, the Senate cannot pass a bill in most instances unless the chairperson of the committee in charge of that bill allows it.
The committee chair can simply not schedule hearings, and under Senate rules, there isn’t much anyone can do about it.
The Real Story About Cannabis and Banking
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs is scheduled to have a hearing on the SAFE Banking Act today.
Speaking at that hearing is Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Both are solidly in favor of legalizing cannabis. The committee will also hear from pro-cannabis voices in the banking industry, a dispensary operator, and an opponent of widespread legalization.
It looks like it was designed to be a friendly event, and it will be interesting to hear comments from the senators on the committee. Those comments are what will make the news tomorrow in the major outlets.
But none of that will be the big news.
That’s because the most important thing out of all of this has already happened.
The big news is the meeting itself. The Chair of the Senate Committee of Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is Mike Crapo (R-ID). He’s one of the biggest opponents of cannabis legalization, and Idaho remains one of the strictest states regarding cannabis.
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If Crapo wanted to kill this bill, he could have used the trick I described above; simply not scheduling a hearing. The bill would have died a quiet death, and no one would even have questioned it.
It would have been just another bill that didn’t have enough support from leadership to get it passed.
Now, there are no guarantees here. The cannabis testimony he hears from advocates is likely to be compelling, but I don’t think Crapo suddenly became a fan of marijuana.
He could still kill the bill.
But again, the fact that he is willing to have a public airing of the merits of the bill indicates that his resistance to cannabis legalization may not be what it once was.
For a banking bill especially, it makes sense that even a cannabis opponent would make an exception and support a bill.
Someone who opposes cannabis legalization can still see the benefits of being able to track the cash from the business through the banking system. The industry-friendly slate of speakers may be a tipoff that Senator Crapo is coming around to that view.
My view on passing pro-cannabis legislation on the national level was cautiously optimistic.
Now it’s full-on optimistic. We could be seeing a new law that ushers in a massive boom for the cannabis industry, and I wanted to remind you that my colleague, Tom Gentile, has a unique way to cash in.
Speaking of cannabis profits, I also want to remind you of a report I released about the three ways to get in on cannabis globalization.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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15 responses to “The Real Story About Cannabis Banking and Legalization”
July 23 2019