NAACP calls for ‘immediate passage’ of marijuana banking bill, pushes for legalization in new resolution

The NAACP board of directors on Thursday approved a resolution calling for the “immediate passage” of a bipartisan marijuana banking bill and expressing support for the federal legalization of cannabis. And the group’s vice chairman specifically directs the message to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has delayed House-passed legislation on the issue.

The organization said banking reform is key to ensuring fairness in the sector, giving small businesses and minority-owned businesses access to financial services that could help them compete in a growing market. more consolidated.

And while the NAACP more broadly supports ending marijuana prohibition, it wants Congress to build on the bipartisan momentum behind incremental reform and quickly pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) banking law, which has cleared the House in some seven times now.

“The SAFE Banking Act could allow cannabis businesses to have social equity licenses, diverse ownership licenses, or other licenses made available by states with medical and adult cannabis laws that target to foster a diverse and fair industry, to better compete in the industry if coupled with the federal declassification of marijuana and explicitly provided fair terms and pricing for black-owned and licensed cannabis businesses of social equity,” the resolution states.

As the leading black civil rights institution, the NAACP’s voice on this issue is notable, as it goes against the position of some other justice advocates who have taken a more skeptical view of banking legislation. and insisted on passing full legalization first. Other groups have pushed for significant changes to the SAFE Banking Act to more firmly address fairness concerns before it can be passed.

The NAACP resolution also notes a legalization bill, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which passed the House for the second time in April.

The resolution explains that the bill “would end federal prohibition by rescinding marijuana planning, rescinding and remanding cannabis convictions, reinvesting cannabis tax revenues in social services and community opportunities.” small business administration for the communities most affected by cannabis prohibition, and ending the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana arrest. or convictions.

To that end, the NAACP said it reaffirms its support for an earlier 2021 resolution “calling for greater economic opportunity for African Americans in the growing cannabis industry,” as well as a 2019 resolution. in favor of the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Additionally, the organization “supports the immediate passage of legislation to provide access to banking services with fair terms and pricing for Black-owned cannabis businesses with a Social Equity License.” .

In a tweet showing the text of the resolution, NAACP Board Vice Chair Karen Boykin-Towns tagged Schumer, saying, “Let’s put #SAFEBanking to a vote to help those harmed by #warondrugs to find an opportunity for legalization.

The American Bankers Association promoted Boykin-Towns’ call, tweeting that “it’s time for the Senate to pass the #SAFEBanking Act.”

The NAACP resolution also says the organization “supports comprehensive legislation that provides individual remedies for those arrested or convicted of possessing or selling marijuana, including release from incarceration and automatic pardons.” and deletion of records”.

The NAACP and other civil rights groups like the ACLU previously pushed Congress to vote on the MORE Act. And the NAACP’s legal arm said in August that as congressional lawmakers stall on broad reform, states should fill the void by continuing to enact legalization.

The organization has advocated for initiatives to legalize the ballot this election cycle in states like Maryland and South Dakota.

With regard to the banking sector, there has been serious pressure from advocates, industry players, associations and lawmakers to pass reform before the end of this Congress.

Colorado’s governor and other top state officials like Treasurer Dave Young (D) sent a letter to congressional leaders this month reiterating their interest in lawmakers passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement banking law (SAFE) from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO).

Members of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST), including Young, also recently reaffirmed the organization’s support for a resolution expressing support for the SAFE Banking Act. Young told Marijuana Moment that the status quo has created a “21st century Wild West in which armed heists and storefront burglaries are becoming an all too common risk.”

Schumer, who is working to finalize a package of cannabis proposals that is expected to include language for the SAFE Banking Act, spoke separately about the banking problem at a White House event last month, stressing that he was working on the issue, according to the House sponsor. .

The conversation between Schumer and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) took place at an event on cutting inflation and coincided with the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) lobby days, with more than 100 marijuana business leaders on Capitol Hill to push for the passage of the SAFE Banking Act.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) also said he thinks Congress has a “good chance” of passing cannabis banking reform during the lame duck as part of the legislation that has yet to be passed. registered and described as “SAFE Plus”. “He was previously adamant about not touching the banking issue until full legalization is enacted, but he has softened his tone in recent months and expressed interest in a compromise.

In addition to banking, it is expected that the omnibus marijuana legislation being drafted that Schumer and bipartisan and bicameral officials are working on will include proposals on cannabis research, access to marijuana medical for veterans and more.

Perlmutter told a news conference hosted by the NCIA that he was increasingly tempted to “go for the nuclear option” on the bylaws committee of “withholding” separate legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in order to obtain the marijuana bank measure. adopted.

Congressman and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the Senate sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, also outlined next steps for cannabis banking reform during a briefing hosted by the US Cannabis Council (USCC ) in July.

The Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition (CRCC) published an article in August that outlined what they saw as shortcomings of the standalone SAFE Banking Act and recommended several amendments to strengthen its impact on fairness.

Booker told an event hosted by the CRCC that the standalone legislation “needs changes” if it is to move forward before cannabis is legalized federally.

The senator first signaled that he was coming to marijuana bank reform (subject to fairness provisions) during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in July that he convened in as president.

Meanwhile, Perlmutter also said in a recent interview that he believes the introduction of the Senate legalization bill alone means lawmakers have overcome a legislative “hurdle” that has held SAFE Banking back from moving forward. in the bedroom.

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According to a new poll from the American Bankers Association (ABA), two out of three Americans want to see Congress pass a bill allowing legal marijuana businesses access to traditional banking services such as checking accounts and loans.

Another recent poll found that Republican voters agree with a number of marijuana reform proposals — from legalizing medical cannabis to expungements for past marijuana convictions to letting states define their own policies without federal interference.

According to an Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) survey released in September, a majority of American voters (65%) support allowing banks to work with state legal marijuana businesses – and the most people believe this will both improve public safety and promote social equity.

Separately, the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recently voted to pass a revised policy directive that voices support for federal marijuana declassification and cannabis banking reform in part of the legalization movement at the state level.

Pennsylvania officials review marijuana pardon applications for typos after finding ‘a few’ errors

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