Chuck Schumer Says He Won’t Advance Banking Reform Before Legalization

The marijuana industry is in desperate need of banking reform. But a group of Senate Democratic leaders say they’ll go to the mat to block its advancement in the absence of comprehensive cannabis reform.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act has wide bipartisan support in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) say they’ll need that support for the eventual decriminalization of marijuana. If the SAFE Banking Act were to pass as a stand-alone bill before a bill to deschedule marijuana, the senators fear they’d be giving away the store.

“Senators Booker, Wyden and I have come to agreement that if we let this bill out, it’ll make it much harder and take longer to pass comprehensive reform. We certainly want the provisions similar to the SAFE Banking Act in our bill but to get more moderate people — to get some Republicans, to get the financial services industry behind the comprehensive bill — is the way to go,” Schumer told Ethan Nadelmann on his podcast Psychoactive.

It’s a strategy that could divide the reform movement. Most experts agree that federal decriminalization is inevitable, but it could take a long time to come to fruition. In the meantime, state legal cannabis businesses suffer from their lack of access to crucial banking and financial services.

Listen to the entire interview with Sen. Schumer here.