September 2023 National News Update: Unveiling Key Cannabis Bills in Congress 

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As September 2023 comes to a close, the U.S. Congress once again jumps into the ongoing narrative of cannabis reform. From bipartisan efforts to advance banking bills to moves to federally legalize cannabis, the House of Representatives is at the forefront of these transformative discussions. Join us as we unpack the latest developments in cannabis legislation and defining moments of September. 


SAFER Banking Act clears committee




This story was edited on Sept. 27th, 2023 to include an update on the SAFER Banking Act.

In a milestone that has sent waves of excitement throughout the cannabis industry, the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act has made its way through committee.


On Sept. 27th, the Senate Banking Committee voted to approve the SAFER Banking Act, advancing this legislation to the Senate floor. While additional amendments are pending, the 14-9 vote of approval from the committee is breathing new life into a bill that has stalled for years.


U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced the SAFER Banking Act on September 20th, just ahead of a pivotal committee vote. The bill, formerly known as the SAFE Banking Act, aims to ensure that legal cannabis businesses can reliably access banking and insurance services, ultimately fostering safe communities and broadening economic opportunities.


Currently, federal regulations strictly control financial services for cannabis companies, resulting in a lack of access to crucial banking for many independent operators. Consequently, numerous businesses operate predominantly with cash, leaving operators, customers, and staff at increased risk of criminal activity. 


“This legislation will help make our communities and small businesses safer by giving legal cannabis businesses access to traditional financial institutions, including bank accounts and small business loans,” the senators said. “It also prevents federal bank regulators from ordering a bank or credit union to close an account based on reputational risk.”


In a separate statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that he is committing to attaching legislation incentivizing state-level cannabis expungements and restoring gun rights for medical cannabis patients. Specifically, he said he would move to add the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act and Gun Rights and Marijuana (GRAM) Act to the final legislation.

House Democrats introduce bill to federally legalize cannabis




Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has rekindled efforts to federally legalize and regulate cannabis. On September 20th, Nadler reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, a comprehensive bill that not only seeks to dismantle the federal prohibition of cannabis but also includes provisions for taxing and expunging prior convictions related to the plant. The bill has 33 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats. 


This marks the third time the MORE Act has made its way to the House, with prior versions passing. However, its reintroduction under Republican control raises questions about its potential progression.

If passed, the MORE Act would deschedule cannabis, removing it from federal drug restrictions while allowing states to retain regulatory authority over its legality. However, it would not require states to legalize cannabis. It also proposes a federal tax structure for cannabis sales, starting at 5% for the first two years and rising to 8% percent by the fifth year. A portion of the tax revenue would be aimed at addressing the impact of federal prohibition, particularly on communities of color. 


Congressional committee approves CURE Act, removing cannabis as a barrier to federal employment




The House Oversight and Accountability Committee officially passed the Cannabis Users’ Restoration of Eligibility (CURE) Act on Sept. 20th with a 30-14 vote. Sponsored by Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Nancy Mace (R-SC), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the bill aims to eliminate barriers to federal employment and security clearance based on past cannabis consumption. The CURE Act would also allow those previously denied a security clearance or a federal job opportunity based on cannabis use a chance to have the denial reviewed. Supporters of the bill included 30 House members, 10 of which are Republican. 


However, while initially designed to cover both past and current cannabis consumers, members adopted amendments from James Corner (R-KY) to refine specific provisions. The amended bill narrows the protections to apply exclusively to prior cannabis use. This means federal workers and security clearances could still face penalties for active consumption. Additionally, the amendment addresses language concerning agencies’ obligation to review denials based solely on cannabis use for security clearances or employment. 


“Federal hiring policies are confusing enough, and this is one area where we can work in a bipartisan way to clarify and codify what is largely an existing practice,” Chairman Corner said during the full committee meeting on Sept. 20th.


Join the conversation with CWCBExpo

The bills introduced this month are poised to shape the future of cannabis policy in the United States. Those eager to stay at the forefront of this evolving landscape must look no further than CWCBExpo. Our comprehensive coverage and
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