The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology (COMPETES) Act of 2022 on February 4, which seeks to increase the country’s semiconductor manufacture.
If successful, the new legislation will also impact the cannabis space as it will allow banks and other financial institutions to support marijuana businesses without fear of breaking the law.
Not only will this provide opportunities for financial institutions, but it will also help minority-owned cannabis firms get the support they need to stay afloat in the market.
Lawmakers revived the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act as one of the amendments to the legislation.
Legislators believe that the SAFE Banking Act is the best way to introduce some form of federal reform to the cannabis industry.
Including it in the COMPETES Act will serve as the first step towards ensuring that marijuana firms receive the same courtesy as any other legitimate business.
Although the implementation of the SAFE Banking Act would be advantageous to the sector, it failed to pass in Congress several times.
Senate leadership even stripped the legislation from a recent military expenditure bill, reducing the chances of meaningful progress with federal cannabis reforms this year.
It’s still unclear whether the bill will make it beyond Senate with the COMPETES Act. However, it’s not all bleak in the marijuana industry, as cannabis businesses in various markets are still finding other ways to get through.
Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a Democratic leader from Colorado, has been at the forefront of cannabis reforms and championed the SAFE Banking Act for years.
Perlmutter, a U.S. House Representative since 2007 and won’t seek reelection this year, told reporters at a briefing on Friday that he’s optimistic about the bill and will fight tirelessly until the end.
The Congressman also indicated that there are plenty of opportunities in the future to push for the SAFE Banking Act if it gets stripped out again.
Perlmutter expressed that there are numerous forthcoming bills that the SAFE Banking Act could be attached to and that he is determined to get the job done.
Rep. David Joyce also revealed that lawmakers had previously pulled the SAFE Banking Act from the recent national defense budget bill because leaders were interested in passing a more in-depth ordinance.
There is a comprehensive marijuana reform bill that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden are finalizing and could be ready soon.
The trio is yet to introduce their comprehensive bill to Congress; they believe it offers the best chance for substantial federal cannabis reform.
Booker stated that while he supports the SAFE Banking Act, he wants any marijuana legalization bill to include initiatives to correct the effects of the war on drugs.
However, Perlmutter, who has authored and championed the SAFE Banking Act for years, expressed his frustration over the matter.
He said that while he supports the efforts to have community-driven initiatives in the bill, it is taking too long to get past Congress.
Perlmutter noted that Republicans believed the SAFE Banking Act was too broad when they were in charge of the Senate, and now Democrats who have the upper hand feel that the bill is too narrow.
The Democrat from Colorado also expressed that he is confident there are enough votes for the Act to pass the Senate. Even so, the Congressman said he doesn’t mind waiting for lawmakers to include significant elements in the bill.
With Democrats gaining control after the 2020 elections, albeit by a small margin, the SAFE Banking Act stands a higher chance of passing the Senate this year. Furthermore, the more conservative senators are being sensitized about the dire effects of delaying the bill.
Also known as the China competition bill, the legislation aims at boosting America’s industrial contention against other significant nations like China.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed that the COMPETES ACT will ensure that the United States remains eminent in innovation, manufacturing, and economic resilience by bolstering semiconductor production.
The bill comes with numerous provisions including, a $52 billion aid to facilitate chip fabrication, $45 billion to improve the supply chain and $160 billion for scientific research and innovation.
The SAFE Banking Act will be a game-changer for the American cannabis industry.
Not only will it let financial institutions invest in cannabis businesses without risking money laundering charges, but it will also allow entrepreneurs to get dispensary supplies and other crucial items they need to stay in business.
Moreover, the Act will also reduce the risk of criminal activity in the cannabis industry due to its cash-exclusive mode of operation.