A congressional spending bill released on Tuesday not only excludes the marijuana banking and expungements reform that advocates had hoped for, but also preserves a rider that blocks Washington, D.C. from implementing regulated, adult-use cannabis commerce.
Adding to the frustration of advocates, the slew of additional drug policy reforms that the House included in its versions of various appropriations bills it advanced earlier this year were all omitted from the final deal.
The omnibus development represents the second major setback for supporters of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act during the lame duck session. After the proposal was excluded from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this month, the hope was that appropriations could serve as the vehicle for protecting banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses. That didn’t pan out.
Despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “making a last ditch effort” to put cannabis banking reform in the omnibus, as one senior Democratic Senate staffer put it last week, negotiations failed to produce a package that includes the measure.
Adding insult to injury, the large-scale spending legislation continues the policy of preventing the District of Columbia from spending its own local tax dollars to legalize adult-use cannabis sales despite the fact that earlier versions of spending bills that advanced in the House and Senate earlier this year did not contain the…