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Biden Unlikely To Act On Marijuana Before Midterms

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By Jelena Martinovic

Democrats are becoming more vocal about cannabis policy reforms as the midterms approach. They are urging President Biden to act on the issue. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman recently called upon the President to deschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug and work to decriminalize it, after which the two politicians crossed paths in Pittsburgh and discussed potential changes to the status of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act.

However, it seems that Biden will remain silent on the issue, at least before the midterm elections, judging by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s latest statement, reported Marijuana Moment.

“I don’t have anything else to share in the upcoming weeks,” Jean-Pierre said on Friday during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One. She added that the President’s stance on cannabis is unchanged. He wants to reschedule marijuana, decriminalize the plant on the federal level and expunge prior records while leaving legalization of recreational use to the states, the press secretary continued.

“The president believes that there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for non-violent drug crimes—a disproportionate number of whom are Black and brown,” Jean-Pierre added.

SAFE Banking Act Again In The Spotlight

Meanwhile, the SAFE Banking Act, a measure designed to shield banks and credit unions that work with cannabis companies from legal penalties, was recently discussed at a Senate hearing, reported the news outlet.

The lawmakers reviewed the piece of legislation, first introduced by Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, during a Senate Banking Committee meeting focused on insurance issues.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) emphasized the importance of banking reform, which encompasses insurance-related provisions taken from his bill titled Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM). To illustrate possible insurance hurdles ancillary cannabis businesses could face if collaborating with marijuana businesses, the senator gave an example of a lightbulb manufacturer and a hypothetical product malfunction.

Photo by Baris-Ozer/Getty Images

RELATED: NORML Op-ed: Prohibitionists Fear Democracy More Than Marijuana

“Imagine a scenario where a New Jersey lightbulb manufacturer sells a product to a state-legalized cannabis business, and there’s a fire related to the lightbulb causing the business to suffer loss,” Menendez said. “Under current law in the scenario I just described, could the lightbulb manufacturer’s insurance company face federal charges they paid the claim?”

Kathleen Birrane, a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) representative, acknowledged that The SAFE Banking Act would significantly protect ancillary businesses.

“It’s really critical that businesses be able to buy insurance, that they be able to pay for that insurance and, when claims occur, that insurance companies be able to use the banking system to pay those claims,” she said. “The SAFE Banking Act would allow that to happen.”

RELATED: Biden Weighs In On Cannabis During Meeting With PA Senate Candidate Fetterman

Meanwhile, a recent Independent Community Bankers of America survey found that two-thirds of voters (65%) support the cannabis banking reform. The same poll indicated bipartisan public support for congressional passage of the legislation.

In June, the Senate rejected, for the sixth time, the bipartisan marijuana banking legislation in the final version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (a.k.a The America COMPETES Act).

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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