Congress leaves out cannabis banking reform from spending package

The measure is intended to increase access to financial services for marijuana businesses, including those involved in Texas' limited medical weed program.

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Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. - Shutterstock / mikeledray
Shutterstock / mikeledray
Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.
A massive spending package before Congress doesn't include marijuana banking reform, delivering yet another blow to cannabis business owners. 

Advocates of legal marijuana were hoping lawmakers would add cannabis banking reform to the omnibus appropriations legislation, but that didn’t happen, Marijuana Moment reports

After the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act failed to make it in the spending bill for a second time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tried to add cannabis banking reform in the legislation.

Republican leaders have stymied efforts to include the bill.  Now, with only a few weeks left in the lame duck session, the chances of Congress approving marijuana banking reform have diminished. 

The measure is intended to increase access to financial services for cannabis businesses in states where marijuana is legal. Even in Texas, which only has a limited program for medical weed, businesses complain that a lack of access to banking services poses a serious hinderance.

Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, cannabis businesses don’t have access to traditional banking services like checking accounts and loans, and they can’t deduct normal business expenses such as rent and payroll. 

Without access to loans, prospective business owners must have capital upfront, making it impossible for anyone without a lot of money already to start a cannabis operation. 

In October, President Joe Biden took a major step toward federal cannabis reform by pardoning all prior offenses for possession and calling on state governors to do the same. Biden also directed the secretary of Health and Human Services and the attorney general to “expeditiously” review the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic with no accepted medical use. Currently, it’s considered on par with drugs like heroin and LSD in the eyes of the federal government.

This story first appeared in Detroit Metro Times, an affiliated publication.

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