Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that he hopes to enact a marijuana banking bill, among others, before the general election in November. Called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act, or SAFER for short, the bill would enable legal cannabis businesses to receive financial services from the federal banking system.

When asked what he thinks the Senate could realistically pass before November, Schumer cited a number of bipartisan bills. “As you know, many of the bills we’ve passed are bipartisan,” he said, adding, “We’re going to work very hard on many different things.”

“We believe very strongly in so many things, and we are going to continue to work on the agenda that we put before us. We first have to fund the government—the supplemental is very important,” said Schumer. “But after that, you will see us turn to many of the bills we passed: the SAFER Act, safety on the rails, [the RECOUP Act], so many other things.”

The SAFER Act cleared the Senate Banking Committee last September and may follow a recent piece of marijuana legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 6. The appropriations package passed by the House included several marijuana provisions, like protecting state medical marijuana programs from federal intervention. The Senate is prepared to advance it to the President’s desk before a Friday night deadline to avoid a government shutdown. 


This is a promising sign that cannabis legislation is moving in the right direction. Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, the original sponsor of the first marijuana banking bill, told Marijuana Moment last week that he is still hopeful that the SAFER Banking Act can be passed by the end of the year. In addition, a key lawmaker signaled that negotiations over cannabis legislation might be coming to a close in the near future. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington became the 36th sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act last week, encouraging supporters of the bill.

Schumer warned that even if the bill does make it to the Senate floor this year, it will likely have to be amended. Adding provisions on state-legal cannabis expungements and gun rights for cannabis users are among the expected changes. In a constituent letter to cannabis industry investor Todd Harrison last November, Schumer also cited resentencing for current federal cannabis prisoners as a possible amendment. In the same letter, he noted that he supports the reforms listed in the SAFER Bank Act and hopes to reverse some of the damage done by the War on Drugs.

President Biden has made significant strides toward releasing and pardoning those convicted of marijuana-related crimes, but cannabis reform at the federal level still has a long way to go. Marijuana reforms at the state level have proven much more encouraging, with the drug being completely legalized in twenty-four out of fifty states thus far. The legal marijuana industry has been highly lucrative for the states that have moved forward with legalization, pushing other states to follow because of the increase in tax revenue. The impending election will dictate the country’s attitude toward cannabis in the coming years.