Will the sixth time be a charm? The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a mouthful of legislation, the America COMPETES Act of 2022. America COMPETES is not-so-obviously parsed as America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength. Also not obvious is the Act includes all the provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act that has been tabled or removed from consideration each time it has advanced to the Senate.
As before, the SAFE provisions will allow banks and other financial institutions to work directly with state-licensed cannabis businesses — which is still the top challenge faced by everyone from growers to dispensaries. Passage would allow these businesses to maintain traditional bank accounts, write payroll checks, make deposits and accept credit cards: all common business necessities that today require cumbersome workarounds.
Passed on a bipartisan vote, the America COMPETES Act is touted as helping increase U.S. production of semiconductor chips with $52 billion in industry support. Strengthening America’s supply chains through $45 billion earmarked for improvements. And advancing greater investment in new technologies and scientific research to keep America at the forefront of global innovation.
And like the SAFE Act provisions, the bill also includes the language from another piece of yet-to-pass-the-Senate legislation, the Combatting Wildlife Trafficking Financing and Proceeds Study Act, which would enable a formal study of this global problem.
The Act’s fortunes in the Senate are again up to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who while outwardly pro-cannabis has blocked the SAFE Act in his desire to first pass a broader bill that would remove cannabis from the list of federally prohibited drugs. Indeed, Schumer is planning to file a new cannabis bill in April, the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA) that he calls a Senate priority: “comprehensive federal cannabis legalization with justice for the communities most impacted by the War on Drugs—especially communities of color.”
Schumer says his CAOA bill would be a boon for small cannabis companies, placing restrictions on many of the larger cannabis companies from monopolizing the industry. Asked at a recent press conference whether President Biden would support his bill, he said that Biden has not yet endorsed the legislation, but he and his co-sponsors Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Ron Wyden “talking” to him about the issue.
As the CAOA Act is more comprehensive than the MORE Act, which has yet to make it out of the House to the Senate, it is likely to get the majority of Senate attention. As always, we’ll chronicle Congress’s gamemanship right here in Kanna Knowledge.