Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.
House leadership confirmed Friday that a bipartisan marijuana banking bill will receive a floor vote next week.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which cleared the Financial Services Committee in March, will be voted on through a process known as suspension of the rules, requiring two-thirds of the chamber (290 members) to support it for passage.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the scheduling of the vote on the House floor Friday morning.
“We will consider several bills under suspension of the rules, including H.R. 1595, the SAFE Banking Act of 2019, as amended.”
No amendments will be allowed on the floor, but the bill’s sponsor, US Representative Ed Perlmutter is moving to make a series of changes ahead of the vote in order to broader its GOP appeal. That includes adding language clarifying that banks that service hemp and CBD business as well as marijuana firms would be protected from being penalized by federal financial regulators.
The revised bill also stipulates that financial regulators can’t target certain industries like firearm dealers without a valid reason.
While advocates initially expected a floor vote to be scheduled prior to the summer recess, that didn’t materialize. Hoyer announced last week that he intended to get a vote before the end of September.
The announcement sparked a debate within advocacy circles, however. Groups including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Drug Policy Alliance wrote a letter urging leadership to delay the vote on banking — legislation viewed as primarily favorable to the industry — until comprehensive marijuana reform is passed first.
But lawmakers such as House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters and Perlmutter said this week that while they share the groups’ desire for broader cannabis legislation, there’s been a lack of movement within the Judiciary Committee to advance a legalization bill from its chair, US Representative Jerrold Nadler, so lawmakers are in a bind.
“Next week’s banking vote is an important first step by Congress,” said Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, which supports moving forward with the banking bill while other legislation is worked out. “But much more action will still need to be taken in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.”