Bipartisan Pennsylvania senators to introduce marijuana banking protection bill as congressional reform stalls

As congressional lawmakers continue to pursue a bill aimed at federally protecting banks that work with legal marijuana businesses in the state, a bipartisan pair of Pennsylvania state senators announced that they would soon introduce Commonwealth “companion” legislation.

The senses. John DiSanto (R) and Sharif Street (D) distributed a co-sponsorship memo to their colleagues on Tuesday unveiling their plans to introduce legislation that would protect banks and insurers from sanctions by state regulators. The senators are chairman and minority chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee.

While financial institutions are generally more tired of dealing with the fallout from federal regulators under the current prohibition policy, state-level reform could allow banks to work with Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis market. as congressional lawmakers try to push forward federal policy change.

Senators Noted that there are 2014 federal enforcement guidelines for banks and the marijuana industry, but “compliance with these guidelines does not immunize financial institutions from lawsuits” and “most will not put not bank cannabis-related businesses without legislative action.”

“As a result, many cannabis-related businesses are locked out of the banking system without access to financial tools and are forced to operate exclusively in cash,” the memo reads. “This is a risk to public safety as dispensaries are targets of robberies that endanger patients, staff and communities.”

There is little the Pennsylvania legislature can do to enact cannabis banking reform at the federal level, but pending legislation would ensure that no state agency can “prohibit, penalize, or otherwise discourage a financial institution or an insurer from providing financial or insurance services to a legitimate cannabis business or the business associates of a legitimate cannabis business,” according to the draft text of the bill that has been shared with Marijuana Moment.

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It also says agencies cannot “recommend, induce, or encourage a financial institution or insurer” not to provide services simply because a business is associated with marijuana.

Additionally, state agencies could “not take adverse or corrective supervisory action on a loan made to a legitimate cannabis-related business,” the draft text says.

In the new co-sponsorship memo, DiSanto and Street pointed out that banking difficulties in the cannabis space “are not just limited to companies that have direct contact with the cannabis plant, but also entities that receive payments from ‘a cannabis business like property owners, security companies, utility providers, suppliers, and employees.”

Congressional lawmakers have made similar points in pushing for enactment of the Safe and Fair Banking Act (SAFE), which has passed the House five times in one form or another but is stalled in the Senate. .

This bill is “designed to reduce money-motivated crime, improve tax collection, and spur economic growth and development,” the Pennsylvania senators said. “Access to the financial system for state-legal cannabis businesses further ensures a safe and well-regulated market.”

U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, has said in recent weeks that he was “irritated” that Congress was unable to pass his bill with Democratic majorities. in both rooms and control of the White Loger. However, as he steps down from Congress at the end of this session, he said last week that he’s “going to push the damn thing through this year.”

Back in Pennsylvania, Street is also the sponsor of a bipartisan bill he introduced in October to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state. Obtaining comprehensive reform like the one passed in the current GOP-controlled legislature would be a daunting task, however.

In the meantime, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (D), who is running for the U.S. Senate this year, said one of his main goals in his final year in office is to make sure the most as many eligible people as possible submit apps ask the courts to expunge their cannabis records and restore opportunities in areas such as housing, student financial aid and employment through an expedited petition program.

Pennsylvania lawmakers could also pass more modest marijuana reform proposals, such as a bill introduced late last year to increase the number of medical marijuana growers in the state, giving the priority to small farms to break up what she described as monopolies or large companies that have created supply problems.

Rep. Amen Brown (D) separately announced plans to introduce a legalization bill that he will work on with Sen. Mike Regan (R), who voiced support for the policy change a day earlier.

Plus, another pair of state legislators, the Reps. Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D) officially unveiled a legalization bill they are proposing last year.

Philadelphia voters also approved a marijuana legalization referendum in November that adds a section to the city’s charter saying “the citizens of Philadelphia call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to pass legislation which will decriminalize, regulate and tax the use, and sale to adults aged 21 or over, of cannabis for non-medical purposes”.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said legalizing marijuana was a priority last year as he negotiated the annual budget with lawmakers. However, its formal spending request did not contain legislative language to actually accomplish the cannabis policy change.

The governor, who signed a medical cannabis expansion bill into law in June, has repeatedly called for legalization and lobbied the Republican-controlled legislature to pursue reform since he took office. came out in favor of the policy in 2019. Shortly after, a lawmaker introduced a separate bill to legalize marijuana through a state-run model.

A Franklin & Marshall College survey released last year found that 60% of Pennsylvania voters support legalizing adult use. It’s the highest level of support for the issue since the company started polling people about it in 2006.

An attempt to protect Pennsylvania patients using medical marijuana from charges of driving under the influence was derailed in the legislature last year, reportedly due to pushback by the Pennsylvania police association. ‘State.

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