Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is asking people to show their support for a marijuana banking bill by signing a petition as he ramps up his efforts for the legislation. In a new email about the effort, he also reiterated his support for comprehensive federal cannabis legalization.

With Congress positioned to pass a final package of appropriations legislation for the current fiscal year, lawmakers have renewed their call to enact the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act. And in an email on Friday, Schumer revisited the issue.

“Can you imagine running a business without having anywhere to put your money?” the email says. “That is the reality for law-abiding marijuana businesses across the country.”

“In states where marijuana is legal, these businesses have extremely limited access to basic banking services such as deposits or lines of credit. They are forced to keep huge amounts of cash on hand – a danger to everyone involved,” the report continues. “Banks are nervous about dealing with legal marijuana businesses because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.”

“I am convinced that we should legalize marijuana. But as I continue to push for legalization, these companies need our immediate support,” Schumer said in the email promoting the online petition, which is a common tactic for building lists for campaign fundraising. “Sign up to support the SAFER Banking Act and ensure marijuana business owners have access to basic banking services.”

By completing the registration form, people are then taken to a short questionnaire asking about their familiarity with the cannabis banking issue.

“Did you know that approximately 90 percent of U.S. banks refuse service to marijuana businesses?” one question is asked.

“Did you know that if marijuana businesses manage to get a bank account, they often have to pay sky-high service fees to cover the bank’s liability?” says another prompt.

“Senate Democrats are looking out for small business owners and fighting to end the unjust criminalization of marijuana. Will you help protect our Democratic Senate majority so we can continue to make progress on this issue?” the conclusion, listing donation options.

The ball is currently in Schumer’s court. The Senate Banking Committee approved the bipartisan cannabis legislation last September, and now it’s a matter of scheduling some floor action before potentially sending it to the House of Representatives, which has passed earlier versions of the bill seven times in recent sessions proposal in one form or another.

But at least in terms of reporting, lawmakers appear once again optimistic about the bill’s prospects.

Schumer told Marijuana Moment earlier this month that the bill remains a “very high priority” for the Senate, and that members are having “very productive” bicameral discussions to reach a final agreement.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also said Thursday that getting the SAFER Banking Act off the ground is a “high priority.” However, he also recently said in a separate interview that advancing the legislation is complicated by the current dynamics in the House of Representatives.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) said Tuesday at an American Bankers Association (ABA) summit that he wants to see the SAFER Banking Act move.

He said that “for whatever reason, the federal government has been slow” to implement the incremental reforms he supports, even though he does not identify as “a marijuana guy.”

A major factor in the bill’s failure to advance to the Senate is disagreement over mostly non-cannabis provisions that relate to broader banking rules, especially those contained in Section 10 of the legislation.

However, bicameral negotiations are underway and recent reports indicate that a final agreement could be just around the corner.

The Democratic Senate sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), told Marijuana Moment this month that the legislation is “gaining momentum” as lawmakers work to bring it up and pass it “this year.” to approve.

The office of SAFER Banking’s lead Republican sponsor, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), separately told Marijuana Moment that “the conversations have been productive and Senator Daines is working to get the bill across the finish line.”

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters who pledge at least $25 per month get access to our interactive maps, charts, and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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At the end of the first half of the 118th Congress in December, Schumer said in a speech that lawmakers would “hit the ground running” in 2024, aiming to build on bipartisan progress on several key issues, including reforming marijuana banking — though he noted it “won’t be easy.”

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) signed on as a cosponsor of the SAFER Banking Act this month, becoming the 36th member of the chamber to add their name to the legislation in addition to being the lead sponsor.

If the SAFER Banking Act reaches the Senate this year, it is expected to be amended. For example, Schumer has discussed the “moral responsibility” to amend it further and add provisions on state legal cannabis expungements and gun rights for cannabis consumers.

In addition, the original sponsor of the first cannabis banking reform bill, former Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), spoke to Marihuana Moment last month about his work with a national marijuana group that lobbied for the legislation. He said he remains “hopeful” there is enough time and momentum to pass the measure this year.

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