Senate Committee Votes In Favor Of Marijuana Banking Bill

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 today in favor of an aUS_capitolmendment to allow state-compliant marijuana businesses to engage in relationships with financial institutions.

Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon and Patty Murray (D) of Washington, the amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill prohibits the US Treasury Department from using federal funds to take punitive actions against banks that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

Presently, most major financial institutions refuse to provide services to state-compliant operators in the marijuana industry out of fear of federal repercussions. Their refusal to do so presents an unnecessary risk to both those who operate in the legal marijuana industry and to those consumers who patronize it.

No industry can operate safely, transparently or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Further, forcing state-licensed businesses to operate on a ‘cash-only’ basis increases the risks for crime and fraud.

It is time for Congress to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities. Today’s Senate Committee vote marks the first step taken by Congress to address these federal policy deficiencies.

Although stand-alone legislation, The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, is pending in both the House and the Senate, it appears unlikely at this time that leadership will move forward with either bill. This means that the Merkley/Murray amendment is like to be reformer’s best opportunity this Congress to impose substantial banking reform.

Keep following NORML’s blog and Take Action Center for legislative updates as this and other relevant reform measures progress. To take action in support of the Merkley/Murray amendment, click here here.

The following Senators voted in favor of the Merkley/Murray amendment:

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Christopher Coons (D-DE)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Steve Daines (R-MT)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Tom Udall (D-NM)

And these Senators voted against the Merkley/Murray amendment:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AK)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Richard C. Shelby (R-AL)


20 thoughts

  1. Link the roll call, please! Actually, publushing the whole thing here would be best: who voted, how?!

  2. Complete descheduling at the federal level is the only real answer to this whole mess. Anything else is just kicking the can with all of these budgetary measures.

  3. “it appears unlikely at this time that leadership will move forward with either bill”
    Man this literally brought the excitement of the cannabis movement in this article to a stand still as all articles presenting the possibility of positive progress in the movement always seem to end with the prospects of legislation doomed to fail? Why is this so? And when do we “the American people” begin stand up and lift up our voices to those who have continued to oppose the common sense notion of freeing up a plant that not only has huge medicinal potential across the board with differing ailments but most importantly and always over looked by those in favor of keeping the plant, yes plant I repeat out of the hands of the people across the world has never ever caused one fatality to any human adult or child.

    Why do we continue to talk about and let our elected government officials who have been completely blinded by unjust law and psychological confusion continue to debate with us about scheduling? What a disgrace and shame when grown men and woman refuse to look at over half the states in our country having laws related to cannabis for medicinal usage but stand and testify that it has no medicinal value, not due to the truth of the matter but to commitments of so called duty. If your duty is supportive of unjust laws perpetuated on your own countrymen, where do you draw the line? This question if for our political leaders who have to deal with these important issues.
    What medicinal factor do cigarettes carry? Are cigarette addictive? You’ve got to be kidding me. This is the 21st century. If there was a time when we the people could propel legislation forward by using the wonderful tools of social media at our disposal, now would be the time to turn things up. Norml and every other ground roots company and organizations should immediately come together and flood our legislators with calls, emails, and chatter on social media sites.until they can no longer shut down this most important conversation. hello can any one out there hear me?

  4. I think that simply repealling the federal definition of “marihuana” would be a direct silver bullet against the whole mess. Technically, no such thing as “marihuana” after that. Just one of Smaug’s missing underbelly scales…

  5. The banking issues, the medical issues, the incarceration issues, the spelling issues, and the constitutionality issues can all be addressed with one simple definition of marijuana at the federal level:

    16. The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

    Give them some credit for tiptoeing up to the line, but their workarounds are insufficient. Let your Congress-persons know that.

  6. Ted Cruiz finally figures it out when he calls out Mitch Miconnel for being the Corporate kissbot Liar that he is. Cruiz is calling out the Washinton machine for what it is. And BOTH parties are guilty.

    Now, if Cruiz is serious about respecting states rights where “T 21; SB 1 : PF is concerned, Then I am considering changing my primary vote from Paul to Cruiz.

  7. @Raven,

    Ted Cruz may be flip-flopping on his position about legalization because Libertard Republicants like him know that attacking marijuana legalization today while defending states’ rights us an indefensible position… But “personally” Cruz is still for prohibition. Read this excerpt from Cruz at

    “If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

    In other words, Republicans want to walk a tight hemp rope of states rights so that states like Texas that don’t have voter initiatives never legalize for decades to come.

    The only Libertarian Republican in Texas that has any sense towards decent marijuana reform is Rep. David Simpson, who introduced a full legalization bill-to-nowhere on grounds of weed being “a plant from God.” A good argument on Constitutional grounds, but no surprise it died in calendar committee no thanks to Republican Todd Hunter, who stalled every marijuana bill that made it through committee, despite promising not to.

    The basic problem with Libertarian Republicans is not even so much the hypocritical opposition from their own party, but the self-defeating policy they defend to abolish income tax and public education. If it hadn’t been for voter initiatives in more progressive states or fair taxation of legalized marijuana in Colorado with revenue for education, firefighters a balanced budget and excess tax back to taxpayers with ca$# change, we WOULDN’T BE CELEBRATING PROGRESS IN LEGALIZATION AT ALL!
    Don’t fall for it Raven. Cruz is as fake as Judas at Jesus Christ’s last meal.
    Pardon me Cruz, if we don’t buy your bag of dirtweed-strung-to-narc labeled like quality medicinal marijuana. Just like our weed, we can all eventually sniff out the quality politicians from the synthetics…

  8. OK.Point made. However; Could someone please clarify Hillary’s position on all of this? Because it sounds like, “We need more research on this…” tipical stance that the ruling class hangs onto in light of the poll numbers we now see. I think that there are far to many who are still in denial.

  9. I delegate this question to Danielle;
    Danielle? You’ve spent enough time on the Hill now to determine that Mitch McConnell actually IS a turtle and that a law isn’t the law we think it is until the president signs it… What do you think about “Hillary” and “more research required for cannabis?” (Before taking a position that would slap her special interest doners in the face?)

  10. @ Julian,

    I plead ignorance as to whom Danielle may be; but I totally agree with your response to Raven.

    @ Raven, I believe Hillary would gladly dodge the MJ question–but, I also believe she would follow Obama’s passive if positive MJ policies. She seems to be an opportunist and too much of a corporatist for my taste, but she’s not politically stupid.

    I think it’s telling how Diane (DINO) Feinstein voted. Someone in Calif needs to grab her by the ear and make her read the stats coming out of Colorado. Almost all positive. She was the only Dem to vote idiocy.

    It’s also telling that 13 Repubs voted against, and only 3 for, the MJ banking bill. Seems most of them still can’t quite get past that Reefer Madness mentality, along no doubt with those hefty donations from pharma.

    Until it’s proven differently, the way I see it, the biggest obstacle to national legalization in the country today is the Republican party. I HOPE the GOP Prexy wannabes get asked the “MJ” question during the upcoming GOP debates on Fox “news.” I’d love to hear some of their answers.

    Rand Paul is the only one of the GOP prexy wannabes who I trust on that issue; however, his stances on too many other issues will never permit me to support his presidency. I think he would gladly take us back to the 11th Century (and, despite what some may think, that would not be a good thing).

  11. Banks aren’t going to touch this until there is no question, which is when it’s federally legal. No bank will risk SEC wrath, this bill may not have any practical effect.

  12. Re “Hillary”– quote as saying she’s “never tried it”– needs to visit Land of Oregano and try a 25-mg single toke of Oregano in a 7/32″(5.5mm) flexdrawtube one-hitter, then she’ll be less afraid to try cannabis. We’ll even name it Flexdrawtube One-Hillary after her (if she scores a famous victory)…

    Vote Nix in 20-0-one Six!

  13. This is a helpful list of the pro-pot candidates we should vote for and of the anti-pot candidates we should not vote for.

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