Welcome to the Cannabis Investing Newsletter Forum. This is for the cannabis stocks forum & discussion. Feel free to find your favorite cannabis stocks and contribute content as you please; content that continues the discussion of, and analysis of, cannabis stocks. – D. H. Taylor
[Sticky] Federal Legalization
SAFE Banking Act Could Light up Pot Stocks
@gtosali1967 Great read. It is looking like there may be movement on the SAFE+ and that is why we are seeing the pop up in cannabis stocks. The initial euphoria will also start to push short sellers out. I posted a few thing about the short sellers during the big spike upward after Biden did his pardoning and news announcement. Short positions were taken in the millions. These short positions are now under water... and, I am perfectly fine with that. These short sellers will start getting squeezed out quickly. This will ignite even more buying and news. Which will push out even more short sellers from previously higher levels. It is a flood that will have a feedback mechanism.
A large-scale defense bill that advocates had hoped would serve as a vehicle to enact marijuana banking and expungements reform does not include any cannabis language following bipartisan and bicameral negotiations.
At the same time, details about the so-called SAFE Plus package that lawmakers have been negotiating are emerging, including the potential inclusion of language on gun rights for marijuana consumers. The deal could still advance as part of separate omnibus appropriations legislation, or even as a standalone, before the end of the year.
Talks over SAFE Plus have been intensifying in recent weeks, and they were complicated in part by a Justice Department memo to senators outlining concerns about marijuana banking reform that sources told Marijuana Moment have since been resolved. Key GOP senators met with DOJ to discuss the issues on Monday, Politico reported.
While hopes were high that lawmakers would seek to attach the cannabis proposals to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), pushback from certain GOP lawmakers derailed that plan ahead of a scheduled House Rules Committee meeting on Monday.
House lawmakers delayed consideration of NDAA in that committee amid reported disagreements over unrelated provisions that deal with the repeal of the vaccine mandate for military service members and federal permitting reform.
But on Tuesday, the bill text was posted—without any components concerning marijuana policy.
It’s still possible that members might file cannabis-related amendments to NDAA, but it comes as a disappointment to advocates that the SAFE Plus package was not included in the base bill, which would have been a strong sign of bipartisan support.
The House already approved its version of the defense legislation earlier this year, with the language of the SAFE Banking Act included, but it was uncertain whether the Senate would go along with it, especially amid calls for more comprehensive reform.
The NDAA is now being pursued through a separate, unrelated legislative vehicle that was already passed by the Senate, which previously refused to sign off on passing cannabis banking reform as part of the bill in 2021—but the political dynamics have shifted considerably since then.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has dedicated significant time to negotiations over SAFE Plus, and the fact that Republicans reclaimed the majority in the House following last month’s elections added urgency to advancing some kind of cannabis reform during the lame duck session.
On Tuesday, Schumer responded to criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said on the floor that he was opposed to efforts by Democrats to attach marijuana banking and other “pet priorities” to NDAA.
“This is something, again, that’s had bipartisan support. We’ve been working with Republicans. It’s a priority for me,” Schumer said. “I’d like to get it done. We’ll try to discuss the best way to get it done.”
While the standalone SAFE Banking Act enjoys sizable bipartisan support, it seems there’s growing consensus among the GOP ranks that it should not be enacted through NDAA.
For example, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the Armed Services Committee ranking member whom this year’s defense bill is named after, said he would “vote against my own bill” if it contained items he considered unrelated, such as cannabis banking.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who is a cosponsor of the standalone SAFE Banking Act, also said that he’s not in favor of passing the reform through NDAA, telling Politico that the process “dilutes the proper role of this place.”
It appears those concerns won the day, with cannabis measures being left out of NDAA.
Earl Purlmutter, (D-Colorado), the main sponsor of Safe Banking act in the House said today he is attempting to get the legislation attached to the Omnibus spending bill as a new effort in wake of Senate Setback b
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) signaled on Thursday that marijuana banking reform might be on hold until the next Congress in 2023, rather than passed during the lame duck session as advocates and stakeholders had hoped. However, Brown’s office told Marijuana Moment that the senator still would like to see the reform included in omnibus appropriations legislation this year so long as it contains additional provisions that he supports.
Asked about the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, the senator told Punchbowl News’s Brendan Pederson on Thursday that he expects to “take it up and get it through” in 2023, adding that “there’s interest in the Republican House.”
Brown also expressed interest in the expanded SAFE Plus bill that Senate leadership has been finalizing because it’s expected to go beyond simple banking reform and also contain other provisions dealing with expungements and more.
The new 2023 comments seemed to depart from what Brown said in an interview that aired on Monday, with the senator insisting that a deal with banking included “absolutely could still happen,” and lawmakers were “this close to a deal,” placing his thumb and index fingers about an inch apart.
But while the new remarks raised some initial concerns for advocates and stakeholders, Brown’s office sent a clarifying statement to Marijuana Moment on Thursday.
“Senator Brown would support SAFE Plus in the omnibus bill,” they said. “SAFE Plus includes provisions Senator Brown supports, such as clarity for [community development financial institutions] and for cannabis workers regarding mortgages.”
With Republicans set to reclaim a House majority in the next Congress, the idea that SAFE Banking has a clearer pathway in 2023 versus 2022 with Democrats currently in control of both chambers is questionable. The reform does enjoy strong bipartisan support, but it’s not clear that GOP leadership in the House will prioritize it, much less go along with an expanded version that contains the expungements components that Brown and others have pushed to include.
Brown has long maintained that he’s only interested in advancing cannabis banking if it’s paired with additional provisions on sentencing reform.
Punchbowl News also raised concerns among advocates and stakeholders earlier this week after another of its reporters said that SAFE Banking “will not be included” in a forthcoming omnibus appropriations package. The text of that legislation has not been released, though lawmakers have reached an agreement on a “framework.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who is a lead sponsor of the standalone SAFE Banking Act, said on Thursday that he is talking to leadership about using the omnibus as the vehicle to enact the legislation but that it will be “an uphill climb” to get an agreement on it.
These developments come after the GOP Senate whip said he’s not expecting the cannabis proposal to be attached to the spending bill, either. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who applauded the exclusion of SAFE Banking from a must-pass defense bill last week, has repeatedly signaled that he’d fight against attempts to advance it through appropriations as well.
McConnell said in a floor speech on Wednesday that “poison pills…will need to stay away from the process.”
McConnell has previously referred to marijuana banking as a “poison pill” in the context of other large-scale legislation, but he didn’t explicitly reference the reform in these latest remarks. Still, it’s not an especially encouraging position for advocates who view appropriations as one of the last remaining vehicles for SAFE Banking or a broader SAFE Plus package that could include expungements and other cannabis provisions, short of moving it as a standalone before Congress adjourns for the session.
Not everyone shares this pessimism, however, including SAFE Banking sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who has made abundantly clear that he’s unwilling to give up the push and will continue to seek the bill’s passage before his retirement at the end of the 117th Congress.
A staffer in Perlmutter’s office told Marijuana Moment on Wednesday that while there’s uncertainty about advancing cannabis banking reform through the omnibus spending bill, the congressman “is still pushing as hard as he can and talking to leadership.”
Perlmutter said at a House Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday that SAFE Banking is one of two “outstanding matters that I’m still working on.” After the reform was left out of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week, he said he was looking at appropriations as an alternative vehicle, but at this point he said he’s just intent on adding it to “something.”
With each day that passes in the lame duck, there’s growing frustration and anxiety among advocates and stakeholders, some of whom feel that this may be the last chance in the short-term to get marijuana banking enacted before Republicans reclaim the majority in the House starting on January 3.
For his part, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has pinned blame on McConnell, telling NJ.com that his vocal opposition to cannabis reform has had a chilling effect of GOP members who might otherwise be amenable to passing legislation that contains SAFE Banking language.
“They’re dead set on anything in marijuana,” he said, referring to Republican leadership. “That to me is the obstacle.”
“The caucus is clearly divided but the people in power in their caucus are clearly against doing anything on marijuana,” he added.
While McConnell’s influence on the issue during the lame duck seems apparent, however, many industry stakeholders feel that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) shares at least some of the blame, arguing that it’s incumbent on him to leverage the Democratic majority and force floor consideration of the incremental reform.
It’s the least he could do, they say, given his earlier promises to bring comprehensive legalization to the floor.
It’s not as if everyone has accepted the idea that a Democratic Senate and GOP House means that incremental reform is dead on arrival in the 118th Congress. There are some who even believe that House Republicans may take the chance to seize the issue from Democrats with their new majority—which is certainly the hope of pro-legalization Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC).
The congresswoman said in a since-deleted tweet on Wednesday that “SAFE Banking is a good bill and it’s a shame all the misinformation about how its passage was imminent. As we close on the end of the legislative session we must look ahead and look beyond SAFE next Congress.”
The post picked up some attention from advocates and stakeholders before being deleted, but a staffer told Marijuana Moment that the congresswoman plans to expand on her thinking in a Twitter thread on Thursday.
As supporters wait to see what actually makes it into the omnibus appropriations legislation, which is now expected to be released in the coming days, there’s been a concerted push from a wide range of interests to pressure lawmakers to get the job done.
One campaign from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) picked up particular steam on Wednesday, with major corporate players and celebrities sharing the organization’s call-to-action on SAFE Banking.
Industry players have long been unified around the idea of passing SAFE Banking, and doing so urgently, but the coordinated push this past week has underscored just how high they view the stakes in these final weeks of the lame duck.
Financial organizations including the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFICU) and Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) have also been amplifying their message to lawmakers to get the job done sooner than later.
Last week, SAFE Banking sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said that he will “keep fighting” to get the reform “passed this year,” adding that “this is not the end of the road.”
“We need to make sure that legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need—operating in cash is an open door to robbery and money laundering,” he said. That’s also a point highlighted in a recent analysis that looked at the trends and motivations for crimes targeting cannabis businesses in Washington State.
One senator who could make or break the final SAFE deal in appropriations is Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who was among a small group of senators who met with the Justice Department this week to seek assurances that issues it raised over SAFE Banking in a memo earlier this year have been effectively resolved.
Meanwhile, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who will serve as Senate president pro tempore for the 118th Congress, is also pushing for passage of the cannabis banking reform during the lame duck, which she discussed at a leadership briefing with Schumer last week.
Murray said that Democrats have made significant progress on a number of issues, even with the slimmest possible majority in the Senate. She said that “we are not done yet,” and there are areas of bipartisan consensus that can still advance before the end of the session, which includes “making sure our legal cannabis businesses can access credit.”
Whether SAFE or SAFE Plus makes it into the forthcoming appropriations deal is yet to be seen. But it’s far from the only cannabis reform that advocates are hoping to see included in the final package delivered to the president’s desk.
The various appropriations bills that the House and Senate considered or advanced this year contain provisions ranging from protecting state marijuana programs from federal interference to removing the congressional blockade that’s prevented Washington, D.C. to implement a system of regulated cannabis
@gtosali1967 I'm waiting on Biden. I think there is a better chance of him doing something early 2023 than anything else.
Schumer makes last-ditch push for cannabis banking bill
This is likely the last opportunity for a bipartisan group of supporters to get a cannabis bill across the finish line in this Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is making a final push for inclusion of the cannabis banking bill in the omnibus funding package.
According to a senior Senate Democratic aide, Democrats shared the revised text with Republicans on Thursday in a bid to get cannabis legislation over the finish line. The new bill text addresses concerns raised by key Republicans, including Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (Iowa).
But whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who has derided the cannabis banking bill on the Senate floor — can be convinced to include it remains to be seen.
Schumer plans to push the bill with the other three House and Senate leaders in omnibus meetings on Friday and through the weekend.
Details: GOP members are concerned about enforcement and money laundering. Those concerns were raised in a Justice Department memo, first reported by Punchbowl News, that was first circulated in May 2022. The new language also hopes to address concerns about cash derived from illegal marijuana sales.
This is likely the last opportunity for a bipartisan group of supporters that includes Schumer and Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) to get a cannabis bill across the finish line in this Congress. They tried and failed to include the SAFE Banking Act with two other pieces of cannabis legislation — the HOPE Act and the GRAM Act — in the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this month.
The HOPE Act would set aside grant funding for states to expunge cannabis-related records and the GRAM Act would protect the second amendment rights of marijuana users.
The outlook: even with these changes, it’s unclear if McConnell will support the addition of the cannabis banking bill in the omnibus. McConnell blocked the SAFE Banking Act in the NDAA last week, and said on the floor that he would work to keep unrelated language out of the omnibus as well.
@cannabisinvesting69yahoo-com Looks like you've had something of a relatively low cost educational seminar with all this? What are your equity buying plans in this price zone?
@cannabisinvesting69yahoo-com So, on this, with a bid/ask at $0.70/$0.85, this says there is a wide spread. That tends to mean that no one is trading in this. Being option expiration, some would know that some want to get out no matter what to save what they can. So, the spread widens. Not sure where the price was prior, where you bought/sold the option. But, this spread is very wide for a front option.
Option expiration can get very awkward on the last day. Some take advantage of it and just take delivery knowing they can make a penny later off of someone's loss.
For me, I'm looking for options further out of the money. I'm paying about $0.02 per option and loading up.
A bipartisan group of 29 congressional lawmakers from both the House and Senate sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday, asking that he formally back federal marijuana legalization as the administration carries out a review of cannabis scheduling at his direction.
The letter, the text of which was obtained by Marijuana Moment last week, was circulated by Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Brian Mast (R-FL), as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and has gained about two dozen additional signatories.
“While we do not always agree on specific measures, we recognize across the aisle that continued federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana does not reflect the will of the broader American electorate,” the letter says. “It is time that your administration’s agenda fully reflect this reality as well.”
Here’s the complete list of signatories on the letter:
- Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
- Rep. David Joyce (R-OH)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
- Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
- Sen. Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR)
- Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC)
- Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
- Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA)
- Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)
- Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
- Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA)
- Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
- Rep. Katie Porter Member (D-CA)
- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
- Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)
- Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
- Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA)
- Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)
- Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
- Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL)
- Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
- Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN)
- Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
- Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA)
- Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO)
“Marijuana does not belong in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a classification intended for exceptionally dangerous substances with high potential for abuse and no medical use,” the lawmakers’ letter to the president says. “The decision to schedule marijuana was rooted in stigma rather than an evidence-based process, and it is time to fully remedy this wrong.”
“Descheduling marijuana can uphold federal and state authority to regulate cannabis, while also authorizing states that wish to continue to prohibit cannabis production and sales the right to do so,” it continues, noting that the House has twice passed legislation to federally legalize, tax and regulate cannabis.
“Additionally, unjust scheduling of marijuana and normalizing federal cannabis regulation go hand-in-hand—like ending restrictions placing disproportionate burden on researchers seeking to study marijuana compared to other Schedule I substances. The federal government must correct this prohibition and the continued criminalization of otherwise legal marijuana—allowing research to meaningfully advance, creating legal job opportunities, promoting public safety not unjust incarceration, and upholding established state regulation of cannabis production, taxation, and sales.”
“We cannot negate the need for legislative action and federal guidance on many of these components, but all branches of the federal government must recognize the need for the descheduling of marijuana and in a manner that protects the will of each state and the markets and regulations that are within their authority to establish,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter was sent to the president and the key cabinet officials following a pair of major setbacks for advocates, with lawmakers failing to attach marijuana banking and other reforms to either the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) or omnibus appropriations legislation this month.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has been working to finalize the so-called SAFE Plus bill, said on Tuesday that two top Republican senators—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)—were ultimately to blame for keeping marijuana banking out of the spending package. He also pledged to “go back at it next year.”
A Senate source had said last week that the majority leader was “making a last ditch effort” to attach the cannabis banking language to the spending bill—but the majority leader wasn’t able to get the deal done. He said the issue would need to wait until the next Congress, which will see Republicans in control of the House.
In the meantime, the bipartisan congressional coalition wants to see Biden become a proactive partner in pushing for federal legalization.
The letter to Biden doesn’t necessarily ask that he take unilateral action to end prohibition, but it suggests that his support for the issue could make a critical difference. As it stands, the president supports decriminalization and letting states set their own policies—but he’s been unwilling to back federal legalization so far.
“Descheduling is necessary to end the harmful federal marijuana prohibition and help our law enforcement officers appropriately prioritize public safety,” the coalition of lawmakers says. “Descheduling also provides the clearest path to address the legal uncertainty facing small businesses in states with regulated cannabis markets. by creating opportunities for regulating and taxing commercial marijuana activities.”
“We expect the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice to continue to expeditiously conduct your directed review of marijuana’s scheduling. While Congress works to send you comprehensive cannabis legislation, the urgency of full descheduling should inform the Administration’s position on overall cannabis reform. Marijuana’s continued inappropriate scheduling is both arcane and out-of-touch with the will of the American people. We look forward to your Administration working transparently and proactively with Congress to enact this crucial step.”
U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, who is CCed on the letter, recently tweeted a link to a Marijuana Moment article that discusses the president’s administrative cannabis scheduling directive.
“We’re going to take a look at what science tells us and what the evidence tells us,” Becerra, who has a considerable record supporting cannabis reform as a congressman and as California’s attorney general, said at the recent overdose prevention event. “That will guide what we do—and we hope that will guide what the federal government does.”
Following the president’s cannabis pardons and scheduling announcement, the secretary said that the department would “work as quickly as we can” to carry out the scientific review. And he’s already discussed the issue with the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to that end.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, whose Justice Department is also leading the scheduling review, is also CCed on the lawmakers’ letter.
Separately, the White House drug czar said recently that that the president’s action was “historic,” adding that there are “clearly” medical benefits of cannabis.
Like HHS, DOJ has similarly committed to quickly carrying out the separate scheduling review the president directed, which could result in a recommendation to place cannabis in a lower schedule or remove it altogether, effectively legalizing the plant under federal law.
Separately, Biden recently cheered a move by Oregon’s governor to grant tens of thousands of marijuana pardons this month, which followed his own federal clemency action. And he says other states should “follow Oregon’s example.”
The president also officially signed a marijuana research bill into law this month, making history by enacting the first piece of standalone federal cannabis reform legislation in U.S. history.
A series of polls have shown that Americans strongly support the president’s pardon action, and they also don’t think that marijuana should be federally classified as a Schedule I drug.
Read the letter to Biden on marijuana legalization below: