Health and Science

Watch Senate hearing on cannabis banking reform

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The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs is hosting a hearing on Tuesday titled "Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives." Lawmakers, industry representatives and advocates are testifying on the challenges cannabis companies face in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal.

Regardless of whether a state has legalized pot, financial institutions that work with the cannabis industry are still running afoul of federal law, putting them at risk of federal money laundering or racketing charges. This prevents growers, dispensaries and other cannabis companies from basic banking services like depositing their money.

To address these issues, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Col., and Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., introduced a bill in March called the Secure and Fair Banking Act, which would allow banks, credit unions and other financial institutions to work with the cannabis industry without violating federal law.

The SAFE Banking Act now has 206 co-sponsors in the House and a companion bill in the Senate.

The hearing comes just two weeks after the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security weighed reforming pot laws. It also comes just hours after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris announced they would introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

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