Marijuana Banking Protections Must Come With Sentencing Reform, Key Senate Chairman Says

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The new chairman of the Senate Banking Committee says he’s open to advancing a bill protecting banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses—but it must be passed in tandem with sentencing reform legislation for drug offenses. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who recently took the top seat in his panel after Democrats secured a majority in the Senate, told reporters that he’s “willing” to move the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, “but with it needs to come sentencing reform.” “I don’t think we move on legalization the way that Colorado and some other states want us to, unless we really look more seriously at who’s in prison for how long for those kinds of offenses and we don’t do one without the other,” he said after having a meeting with Colorado lawmakers about cannabis issues. Brown, in comments first reported by Cleveland.com on Friday, added that if he does move forward with the SAFE Banking Act—which would prevent banks from being penalized by federal regulators simply by working with cannabis businesses—it will be done in coordination with the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would have jurisdiction over sentencing reform provisions. His comments seem to echo a debate that played out last year over House leadership’s decision to hold a vote on the SAFE Banking Act before first addressing those broad policy changes. There were calls from advocates and certain lawmakers to postpone action on the banking bill until comprehensive legalization legislation advanced first. Brown isn’t known to be an advocate on cannabis issues and said late last year when asked about marijuana reform that “I just don’t think that’s a priority.” He’s consistently declined to endorse the broader policy change or cosponsor pieces of reform legislation—and has gone further by making dismissive comments about the issue. “States that have legalized…

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Source : Marijuana Banking Protections Must Come With Sentencing Reform, Key Senate Chairman Says

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