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March 18, 2021, 2:20 p.m. EDT

As lawmakers reintroduce cannabis-banking bill, analyst says it’s the ‘backup plan if Democrats cannot enact legalization’

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By Victor Reklaitis

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced the SAFE Banking Act , a bill that aims to protect financial institutions that work with the cannabis industry.

The  Democratic-run House passed  the bill in 2019, but it never got much traction in the Senate , which was controlled by Republicans until this past January.

Some analysts said earlier this year that the SAFE Banking Act is the marijuana-related legislation that’s most likely to pass the Senate in the next 2 years, rather than other bills that would deliver federal decriminalization.

That’s partly because the Senate’s filibuster rules require 60 votes to end debate on most items and allow the minority party to stymie the majority’s efforts. Democrats have just 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber and only have control of it because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tiebreaking votes.

Related: Biden says he supports tweaking Senate’s filibuster rules

A Cowen Washington Research Group analyst on Thursday described the cannabis-banking bill as “the backup plan if Democrats cannot enact legalization legislation.”

“Right now there is pressure to pass a cannabis bill,” said Cowen’s Jaret Seiberg in a note.

“Passing the SAFE Act would relieve that pressure, which means legalization would be unlikely to get a Senate vote. It is why the more likely play is to try to pass legalization with the backup plan of switching to the SAFE Act if there are not the votes to legalize.”

Cannabis stocks /zigman2/quotes/204332491/composite MJ +4.35% /zigman2/quotes/213173823/composite THCX +3.81% surged in January and early February amid hopes for reforms to U.S. laws due to Democrats taking control of Congress and the White House. Their rally came to a screeching halt in mid-February, with one analyst saying the gains had become “ overly exuberant.

US : U.S.: NYSE Arca
$ 21.34
+0.89 +4.35%
Volume: 1.91M
May 7, 2021 4:00p
US : U.S.: NYSE Arca
$ 17.70
+0.65 +3.81%
Volume: 74,110
May 7, 2021 4:00p

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