The Senate Banking Committee could schedule hearings on bipartisan legislation on cannabis banking in as little as two weeks. This revelation was made by the chairman of that committee, Mike Crapo (R-ID) as he talked to American Banker.
Crapo said that he was looking into the prospect of scheduling a hearing on the matter and added that the hearings will be “relatively soon.”
This statement marks a huge change of heart for the senator from Idaho who is on record saying (in April) that he wouldn’t commit his committee to holding sessions on marijuana banking as long as marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
Banking industry insiders believe that the committee is likely to have two hearings in the week starting July 22. One hearing will be centered on hearing from the regulators of the banking sector while the second hearing will listen to the other stakeholders on this matter.
A similar bill was passed by the Congressional Banking Services Committee in March and similar language to the contents of the STATES Act was included in the appropriations bill.
While pro-cannabis advocates have been hoping that the STATES Act is put on the schedule for a vote by the entire House before the legislative chamber goes for recess in August, this hasn’t happened as yet. It now seems that a vote on the bill may have to wait until the fall.
Concerns have also been voiced about how the STATES Act would be received once it gets to a Senate that is dominated by Republicans.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), the chief sponsor of the House version of the bill, revealed that lawmakers are currently exploring other ways to generate Republican support for the bill. One of the avenues being explored is including language to the effect that regulators will not prevent payday lenders and gun manufacturers from accessing banking services.
Another avenue that could be used is the inclusion of language that protects the hemp industry so that Republicans don’t look at that the bill as one on just marijuana.
A senate hearing on marijuana business banking would mark another milestone for those who want to see marijuana policy reform. While the STATES Act will not alter the status of marijuana federally, it is a step in the right direction since many advocates see the incremental approach to legalization as a more realistic option when compared to the chances of a standalone bill on legalization passing in both chambers.
Industry watchers believe that the entire cannabis industry, including Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTCQB: NUGS) and Youngevity International Inc. (NASDAQ: YGYI), will be waiting with bated breath to hear what comes out from the Senate committee hearings.
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