The SAFE Banking Act has finally been reintroduced in the new Congress, and one of its primary Senate sponsors, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, predicted on Twitter that the bill has a “path to a floor vote” through the Banking Committee.
We expect a hearing in the Senate Banking Committee on SAFE Banking and have a path to a floor vote. There will be a chance to add provisions—like the HOPE and GRAM Acts—before final passage, which includes funding for expungement of cannabis records for cannabis states.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) April 26, 2023
When the bill was revealed last week, stocks of many multistate operators popped quickly, despite the fact that the measure still has a long way to go before becoming law – and could easily be derailed as it has been for multiple sessions running now.
According to Viridian Capital Advisors, it was some of the biggest and most valuable MSO stocks that had the biggest jump in trading value last week following the new of SAFE Banking, while MSOs with lower market caps didn’t see as much of a benefit.
For the week ending April 28, Viridian found:
- Curaleaf Holdings (CSE: CURA) (OTC: CURLF), market cap of $1.7 billion, stock price up 9%.
- Green Thumb Industries (CSE: GTII) (OTC: GTBIF), market cap of $1.4 billion, stock price up 2%.
- Verano Holdings Corp. (CSE: VRNO) (OTC: VRNOF), market cap roughly $1 billion, stock price up 8%.
- Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (CSE: TRUL) (OTC: TCNNF), market cap roughly $1 billion, stock price up 6%.
- Cresco Labs (CSE: CL) (OTC: CRLBF), market cap roughly $600 million, stock price up 11%.
- TerrAscend Corp. (CSE: TER) (OTC: TRSSF), market cap roughly $600 million, stock price up 9%.
Of the other MSOs that Viridian analyzed, only Ayr Wellness’s stock price increased by more than 5% (Ayr’s stock shot up almost 12%).
Several smaller MSOs, including Acreage Holdings and MariMed, even saw their stock price decline for the full week, Viridian found.
All of this volatility without even a single Senate hearing yet. It seems that cannabis stocks are primed for a roller coaster year, with such jumpiness before Congress even really gets started on cannabis reform.
The Latest SAFE Banking Act
It’s also worth noting that the industry divisions that likely kept SAFE Banking from crossing the finish line last year – with some equity advocates criticizing the bill for not going far enough to repair harms wrought by the war on drugs, while other business interests contended SAFE’s incremental progress was better than none at all – may crop back up this year.
The bill as reintroduced has some new provisions that appear to be an attempt at satisfying last year’s critics, including new protections for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions, to “ensure they can also serve cannabis businesses,” according to a press release from Merkley’s office.
But as Marijuana Moment reported, lawmakers appear to be hoping that they’ll get SAFE Banking through committee and to the Senate floor for the very first time, “where they could attach justice-focused amendments and create a ‘SAFE Plus’ package.”
Historically, that broader approach has been a nonstarter for most Congressional Republicans, who prefer that SAFE remain focused on the business of cannabis banking instead of incorporating broader cannabis social justice reforms.
But this time, at least for now, the Senate version of SAFE has a solid seven GOP co-sponsors that have already signed on with the legislation. That means backers may only need another three Republicans – assuming every Senate Democrat and independent backs the bill – to get it through the upper chamber without a filibuster.
If that’s successful, passage through the House is a near-certainty, since it’s been approved there seven times in the past already. However, the House of Representatives is now controlled by Republicans who may not view the measure as a priority.