Senate Committee Votes In Favor Of Marijuana Banking Bill

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate July 23, 2015

    Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 today in favor of an aUS_capitolmendment to allow state-compliant marijuana businesses to engage in relationships with financial institutions.

    Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon and Patty Murray (D) of Washington, the amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill prohibits the US Treasury Department from using federal funds to take punitive actions against banks that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

    Presently, most major financial institutions refuse to provide services to state-compliant operators in the marijuana industry out of fear of federal repercussions. Their refusal to do so presents an unnecessary risk to both those who operate in the legal marijuana industry and to those consumers who patronize it.

    No industry can operate safely, transparently or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Further, forcing state-licensed businesses to operate on a ‘cash-only’ basis increases the risks for crime and fraud.

    It is time for Congress to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities. Today’s Senate Committee vote marks the first step taken by Congress to address these federal policy deficiencies.

    Although stand-alone legislation, The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, is pending in both the House and the Senate, it appears unlikely at this time that leadership will move forward with either bill. This means that the Merkley/Murray amendment is like to be reformer’s best opportunity this Congress to impose substantial banking reform.

    Keep following NORML’s blog and Take Action Center for legislative updates as this and other relevant reform measures progress. To take action in support of the Merkley/Murray amendment, click here here.

    The following Senators voted in favor of the Merkley/Murray amendment:

    Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
    Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
    Christopher Coons (D-DE)
    Dick Durbin (D-IL)
    Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
    Steve Daines (R-MT)
    Chris Murphy (D-CT)
    Jack Reed (D-RI)
    Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
    Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
    Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
    Patty Murray (D-WA)
    Brian Schatz (D-HI)
    Jon Tester (D-MT)
    Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Tom Udall (D-NM)

    And these Senators voted against the Merkley/Murray amendment:

    Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
    Roy Blunt (R-MO)
    John Boozman (R-AK)
    Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
    Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    Susan Collins (R-ME)
    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    John Hoeven (R-ND)
    Mark Kirk (R-IL)
    James Lankford (R-OK)
    Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Jerry Moran (R-KS)
    Richard C. Shelby (R-AL)


    20 responses to “Senate Committee Votes In Favor Of Marijuana Banking Bill”

    1. TheOracle says:

      The sooner there is legal cannabis banking the better!

    2. Matthew says:

      Link the roll call, please! Actually, publushing the whole thing here would be best: who voted, how?!

    3. Evening Bud says:

      This looks like great news!

    4. brent says:

      wats the bill number?

      [Paul Armentano responds: there is no bill number; this is an amendment. You can support it here: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17223.%5D

    5. Galileo Galilei says:

      This is a major step forward.

    6. Raven says:

      Complete descheduling at the federal level is the only real answer to this whole mess. Anything else is just kicking the can with all of these budgetary measures.

    7. Latchkeykid says:

      “it appears unlikely at this time that leadership will move forward with either bill”
      Man this literally brought the excitement of the cannabis movement in this article to a stand still as all articles presenting the possibility of positive progress in the movement always seem to end with the prospects of legislation doomed to fail? Why is this so? And when do we “the American people” begin stand up and lift up our voices to those who have continued to oppose the common sense notion of freeing up a plant that not only has huge medicinal potential across the board with differing ailments but most importantly and always over looked by those in favor of keeping the plant, yes plant I repeat out of the hands of the people across the world has never ever caused one fatality to any human adult or child.

      Why do we continue to talk about and let our elected government officials who have been completely blinded by unjust law and psychological confusion continue to debate with us about scheduling? What a disgrace and shame when grown men and woman refuse to look at over half the states in our country having laws related to cannabis for medicinal usage but stand and testify that it has no medicinal value, not due to the truth of the matter but to commitments of so called duty. If your duty is supportive of unjust laws perpetuated on your own countrymen, where do you draw the line? This question if for our political leaders who have to deal with these important issues.
      What medicinal factor do cigarettes carry? Are cigarette addictive? You’ve got to be kidding me. This is the 21st century. If there was a time when we the people could propel legislation forward by using the wonderful tools of social media at our disposal, now would be the time to turn things up. Norml and every other ground roots company and organizations should immediately come together and flood our legislators with calls, emails, and chatter on social media sites.until they can no longer shut down this most important conversation. hello can any one out there hear me?

    8. bobwv says:

      Ain’t 1968 anymore is it. ha ha

    9. Matthew says:

      I think that simply repealling the federal definition of “marihuana” would be a direct silver bullet against the whole mess. Technically, no such thing as “marihuana” after that. Just one of Smaug’s missing underbelly scales…

    10. YearofAction says:

      The banking issues, the medical issues, the incarceration issues, the spelling issues, and the constitutionality issues can all be addressed with one simple definition of marijuana at the federal level:

      16. The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

      Give them some credit for tiptoeing up to the line, but their workarounds are insufficient. Let your Congress-persons know that.