After finally introducing the comprehensive Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) in the U.S. Senate last month, last week Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) softened his prior position on a separate, narrower cannabis banking bill when he said that he would now consider the banking bill with modifications. As we previously reported, the SAFE Banking Act would allow cannabis businesses to access the federal banking system and service providers to the cannabis industry such as attorneys, accountants, bankers and landlords would be permitted to accept payment from cannabis businesses without the risk of violating federal law. SAFE Banking has passed the House of Representatives seven times in recent years but so far has not been taken up in the Senate.
Since the introduction of the CAOA last month, which would not only permit cannabis companies to access the banking system but would legalize and decriminalize recreational cannabis with an eye toward supporting communities that have been most impacted by the war on drugs, Sens. Booker and Schumer (D-N.Y.) have said they would be willing to consider more incremental cannabis reform such as SAFE Banking with added equity provisions. Many are referring to the as-yet proposed bill as “SAFE Banking Plus,” which would ensure equitable access to financial services for minority-owned cannabis businesses and require financial institutions to prove compliance with anti-discrimination laws, among other things.
Schumer and Booker have been meeting with other lawmakers to work on a compromise bill, and Booker said a proposal might come after the November elections and before the new Congress starts in January.