A compromise bill allowing banks and other financial institutions to serve state-legal cannabis businesses without the threat of a crackdown by federal authorities passed a key US Senate panel hearing overnight.
The Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs passed the renegotiated SAFER (Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation) Banking Act decisively, the first time Senate members have voted in favour of the measure.
It now proceeds to the wider Senate and House for further debate, amendments and votes before it can go to President Biden for sign off.
However, despite bipartisan support, a potential government shutdown next month could still scupper its progress.
Senior vice president of public affairs at the US Cannabis Council David Culver told MJBizDaily: “If there’s a shutdown, we can reasonably expect that to slow down progress on Capitol Hill across the board. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the shutdown is not good for SAFE.”
Last week, Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in announcing a new version of what had previously been dubbed SAFE Banking.
The bill, which would unlock the US financial system for cannabis companies, has often looked like making progress before hitting roadblocks as it wends its way through the legislature.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, senior Democrats have introduced a bill to legalise cannabis for adult users and qualified medical patients after Senate leader Melissa Agard said revenue is going to neighbouring states where the substance is legal.
“Right now, we are seeing our hard-earned money go across the border to Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year,” she said.
“That is money we could be reinvesting to help support our friends and neighbours and make our state a place where people want to live, work, and play.
“Let’s join folks in over half the nation who have said ‘yes’ to putting the half-baked politics of prohibition behind us and set our expectations higher.”
Democratic Governor Tony Evers would likely support the measure having included legalisation provisions in his proposed state budget earlier this year which were subsequently removed by the legislature.