Senators Publicly Pressure Key Chairman For Vote On Marijuana Banking Bill

MJ moment

The sponsors of a Senate bill to protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators are publicly urging a key chairman told put the legislation to a vote. In a letter sent to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Thursday, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) urged a markup of their Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, arguing that it would help address an urgent public safety issue. “This is not simply a matter of banking. The inability of these state-legal entities to bank their significant cash reserves is an issue of public safety,” they wrote, citing cases of robberies and armed burglaries at dispensaries in both of their home states. “We owe this to our constituents to hold a markup on this bill and further the legislative process,” the letter, which was also addressed to the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), continues. “To foster success rather than gridlock, we believe this markup on S. 910 is necessary and should focus on policies with robust bipartisan support.” What’s notable about the letter, which comes three months after the bill’s reintroduction, is that the sponsors feel it’s necessary to communicate their request in such a public manner—perhaps signaling that Brown has been unresponsive to conventional behind-the-scenes requests among colleagues. The chairman has made clear he’s not eager to advance the legislation, saying in April that “I think we need to look at a number of things,” and that the body is “not ready to move on it.” One thing that Brown previously said he wanted to do was tie the cannabis banking legislation to sentencing reform, though he’s since indicated that he’s not necessarily married to that approach. He also disclosed that he’s in talks with Senate leadership on…

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