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Jelena Martinovic

Congress Under Pressure: Colorado Officials Push For Cannabis Banking Reform

With the end of Congress' session just around the corner, marijuana advocates, stakeholders and lawmakers continue to push for marijuana banking policy change.

This time, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) joined forces with Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (D), Attorney General Phil Weiser (D), Treasurer Dave Young (D) and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Executive Director Stan Hilkey in urging congressional leaders to revisit the issue, reported Marijuana Moment.

In a letter sent on Monday to both House and Senate leaders, Colorado officials focused on the impact which a bipartisan marijuana banking bill will have in terms of public safety and industry equity,

"The lack of safe banking and financial services for the cannabis industry in the State of Colorado has become a dire public safety issue for highly regulated cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state law," the officials said.

The letter, which came on the heels of President Biden's announcement to pardon prior federal cannabis possession convictions, also addressed the "uneven playing field faced by small and minority-owned cannabis businesses" caused by the lack of safe banking.

"We are proud of the robust cannabis structure established in our state that protects public safety, supports responsible innovation and, importantly, enhances the myriad economic development and social benefits the industry has provided to all Coloradans, especially minority-, women-, and veteran-owned small businesses," the letter said.

Banking Reform Bill Moving Closer To Passing

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), has passed the House on several occasions but stalled in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Cantor Fitzgerald's analyst Pablo Zuanic, who recently met with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., said last week that congressional leaders are considering a banking measure for the cannabis industry in the upcoming elections.

The analyst also said that the marijuana industry may not be in regulatory limbo for much longer, with the passage of "SAFE Plus" now more likely to pass during the Congressional lame-duck period, between the November midterms and when the new Congress is sworn in in January 2023.

The 'SAFE Banking Plus' Act is an updated version of a bill that seeks to harmonize state, federal and state law by protecting financial institutions that provide banking services to marijuana-related and ancillary businesses.

"We think that talk of a SAFE Plus (bill) is something that should be taken seriously," Zuanic recently told investors during a Zoom call. "It's not just a jingle. It's not a pipe dream. It's something that's ongoing. There are discussions at high levels in the Senate between co-sponsors of the SAFE Banking bill on the Republican side with Senate leadership."

Photo: Courtesy of micheile dot com on Unsplash

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