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According to Senate Sources, Schumer, Booker, and Other Senators Will Meet to Discuss Marijuana Legislation!

Marijuana Moment has confirmed with two Senate sources that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other senior Democratic senators will be meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss marijuana legislation.

After efforts to approve moderate reforms in the previous Congress faltered, advocates and stakeholders have been keeping a tight eye on the cannabis industry. Now that Republicans control the House, the debates have resumed under new political circumstances.

According to Punchbowl News’ first story, Schumer will meet with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), as well as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

 

Ron Wyden (D-OR), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was also invited; however, an official revealed to Marijuana Moment that Wyden would be sending a senior staffer in his stead due to “an unavoidable schedule difficulty.”

We don’t know if the senators will be addressing any specific measures or cannabis-related concerns, but it appears probable that they’ll pick up where they left off last session, with an emphasis on the so-called SAFE Plus package of marijuana banking and expungements legislation.

It is notable that no Republican senators were involved in the discussion, despite the fact that senators like Steve Daines (R-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) were previously confirmed as being part of talks on cannabis legislation near the close of the previous Congress.

Last year, Schumer and Booker introduced a comprehensive marijuana legalization plan, but it soon became clear that they lacked the 60 Senate votes necessary for success. For the sake of compromise, the majority leader spearheaded negotiations over the SAFE Plus agreement between both houses of Congress.

Afterward, Booker told NBC News that the senators are “all fairly positive” that cannabis reform will pass this Congress. The meeting lasted for 30 minutes.

As he put it, “this was a discussion about how do we make progress in this Congress” after saying, “I think that Senator Schumer and I and Wyden announced a vision for cannabis reform” in the previous Congress. We didn’t fool ourselves. We may have a splintered Congress, but we still need to find common ground so we can get anything done.

 

Schumer blamed Republican senators for derailing the bipartisan plans after unsuccessful attempts to include the change in large-scale defense and budget legislation.

While Brown has paid close attention to the issue overall, he has concentrated on the financial aspects. He would be in a pivotal position to get the change through the House as the chair of the Banking Committee. When it comes to the banking repair, he has made it plain that he wants to see provisions for equity and justice included.

Rosen has long advocated for the expansion of federal Small Business Administration (SBA) services to the cannabis business. During talks, this was floated as a potential SAFE Plus add-on.

Following the House switch, the chances of passing marijuana reform have changed, but the meeting on Wednesday is good news for activists who have been hoping to see action from the Senate after the sad end of the past session.

Booker has recently stated in an interview that the ongoing problems with banking that have arisen due to the prohibition of marijuana amount to a “cannabis crisis,” and while he does believe there is still a chance for reform, he has emphasized the difficulties of the new political dynamic on Capitol Hill.

Senator Booker’s attitude on banking legislation has been under fire from a subset of his constituents due to his shifting support for and opposition to several amendments and amendment packages to the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

If Democrats don’t pass cannabis legislation during the lame-duck session, the senator said in an interview after last year’s election, it may take “many years from now.”

When asked last week where Vice President Joe Biden stands on marijuana banking reform, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded that the subject is now before Congress and that there are no plans for executive action to address the problem.

Biden has not articulated a firm policy stance on banking marijuana, although he has emphasized that individual states should be free to establish their own policies for cannabis regulation. After the president gave a blanket pardon for cannabis possession in October, his government became more outspoken on the topic.

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Mohit Sharma

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