On June 4, 2019, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a tweet that Congress should decriminalize marijuana at the federal level before considering a legal safe harbor for the banking industry such as the SAFE Banking Act. His tweet was a direct response to reports that House Democrat appropriators attached a provision to the House financial services and general government appropriations bill that would prevent financial regulators from using funds to crackdown on banks servicing the cannabis industry.
Instead, Minority Leader Schumer prefers the approach set forth in a bill he introduced with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Minority Leader Schumer and Congressman Jeffries introduced the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act on May 9, 2019, to amend the Controlled Substance Act and remove marijuana form the controlled substance list. Without backing from Minority Leader Schumer, it is unclear whether a legislative carve out for the banking industry would gather enough support in the Senate to lift Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) hold on the SAFE Banking Act.