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Senate Banking Committee Chair Optimistic on Cannabis Banking Legislation Vote

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Sep 11, 2023


After last week’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended reclassifying cannabis as a lower-risk drug, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, told reporters that an agreement on cannabis banking legislation is “imminent,"  according to Green Market Report.

Brown told Punchbowl News that his committee could hold a hearing on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act “in the next six weeks.”

The SAFE Banking Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives five times since it was introduced in 2013, most recently in 2021. If signed into law, it would protect federal chartered financial institutions from incurring penalties for servicing legitimate cannabis businesses. (For more on this topic, see “With NYS dispensaries set to open soon, CPAs see opportunities and hurdles” in The Trusted Professional’s November/December 2022 issue, page 1).  

“We know that some members of the committee are going to vote no regardless, but we think there’ll be something good that gets a good majority,” Brown told Politico, according to Green Market Report.

Now that the House has a Republican majority, its leaders are “either agnostic or opposed” to the bill, and that “makes passage challenging, which is why the best window may be after next year’s election,” Jaret Seiberg, an analyst at TD Cowen Washington Research Group, said in a note reported by Marketwatch.

“Congress is basically trying to follow up on HHS’s historic rescheduling announcement,” Tim Barash, CEO of cannabis software firm Dutchie, told Green Market Report. “The government is catching up to where Americans already are.”

Pointing out that people over the age of 65 are now the fastest growing group of cannabis users in the United States, as CNN reported last month, Barash said that ‘[a] hundred percent of them vote, and they are using (marijuana) for a ton of medicinal reasons. … It is dramatically more mainstream than it was just a few years ago [and] is clearly part of the political calculus.”

To learn about the ethical considerations that CPAs and CPA firms should be aware of when considering services to the regulated cannabis industry, attend the Foundation for Accounting Educations' Ethical Considerations in Working with Cannabis Webinar on Sept. 14.

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