Congress Drops Marijuana Reform In Defense Bill

Following bipartisan and bicameral discussions, a large-scale defense package that proponents thought would serve as a vehicle to enact marijuana banking and expungement reform does not include any cannabis provisions.

While lawmakers had hoped to tie the cannabis measures to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), criticism from certain Republican lawmakers disrupted that strategy ahead of a scheduled House Rules Committee meeting on Monday.

House lawmakers delayed consideration of the NDAA in that committee due to reported differences over unrelated measures dealing with the repeal of the military vaccine mandate and federal permitting reform.

However, the legislative text was posted on Tuesday without any marijuana policy components. Cannabis advocates are disappointed that the SAFE Plus package was not included in the main bill, which would have signaled strong bipartisan support.

Nevertheless, details regarding the SAFE Plus package are still surfacing, with lawmakers apparently continuing discussions, including the possible inclusion of language limiting marijuana consumers’ firearms rights. The agreement might still be passed as part of a second omnibus appropriations bill, or even as a standalone bill, before the end of the year.

The debate over SAFE Plus has heated up in recent weeks, exacerbated in part by a Justice Department note to senators highlighting concerns about marijuana banking legislation, which sources tell Marijuana Moment has now been handled.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who stated on the floor that he was opposed to Democratic efforts to attach marijuana banking and other “pet priorities” to the NDAA.

“This is something, again, that’s had bipartisan support. We’ve been working with Republicans. It’s a priority for me,” Schumer said. “I’d like to get it done. We’ll try to discuss the best way to get it done.”

While the standalone SAFE Banking Act has broad bipartisan support, there appears to be growing agreement among Republicans that it should not be included in the NDAA.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, the leading member of the Armed Services Committee after whom this year’s defense bill is named, stated that he would “vote against my own bill” if it included topics he deemed unrelated, such as cannabis banking. Sen. Kevin Cramer, a coauthor of the standalone SAFE Banking Act, has likewise stated his opposition to adopting the reform through NDAA, saying Politico that the approach “dilutes the proper role of this place.”

Information for this briefing was found via Marijuana Moment and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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