The 3 Federal Marijuana Bills Most Likely to Be Passed by US Congress Within the Next 6 Months

There are currently over 15 active marijuana-related bills in the United States Congress, but only a few of these have a legitimate chance of being enacted into law this year.

Currently, Democrats have narrow control of the US Senate, while Republicans narrowly control the House of Representatives. If Democrats retain the Senate this November while taking back control of the House, they have vowed to pass legislation that would deschedule marijuana; namely, the MORE Act in the House and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act in the Senate. However, there are a few bills with strong bipartisan support that have a shot at being passed into law this year, as unlikely as it may seem.

With that said, below are the three federal marijuana bills that could be enacted into law this year.

The SAFE / SAFER Banking Act

The SAFE Banking Act in the House has 120 sponsors, more than any other marijuana-related bill in US congressional history. The updated by nearly identical SAFER Banking Acts in the Senate has 36 sponsors, over a third of the full chamber. Both versions of the bill enjoy strong bipartisan support, with the Senate version also sponsored by all three independent senators.

Both measures would allow banks and credit unions to provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are legal under their state’s law. The proposals would also allow marijuana businesses to take standard IRS tax deductions that they are currently not allowed to do.

In the Senate, the Banking Committee passed the legislation in September, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying multiple times in recent weeks that the full Senate is nearing a vote on the measure, with it expected to come prior to the November election. If it does pass the Senate, it’s unclear if House Speaker Mike Johnson will put it to a vote in the House, but with many in his own caucus sponsoring the bill there’s a decent chance he won’t stand in the way.

If the SAFE or SAFER Banking Act is passed by Congress, President Biden has promised to sign it into law.

The HOPE Act

In April 2023, the HOPE Act was filed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. Last month, a Senate companion bill was filed by Senator Jackie Rosen (D-NV).

The legislation would authorize the Department of Justice (DOJ) “to make grants to states and local governments to reduce the financial and administrative burden of expunging convictions for state cannabis offenses.” It would also “require DOJ to study and report on (1) the effects on an individual of a criminal record report of a conviction for a criminal offense related to cannabis, and (2) the costs incurred for incarcerating an individual for a criminal offense related to cannabis.”

Senate Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to include the language of the HOPE Act within the language of the SAFER Banking Act before it’s considered by the full chamber, saying he’s confident it has enough support to be passed into law.

The Veterans Equal Access Act

The Veterans Equal Access Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow physicians to discuss medical marijuana with their patients, and recommend it if they deem it appropriate. The measure has 29 bipartisan sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Under current law, physicians at the VA are prohibited from discussing marijuana with their patients, and veterans who receive care from VA facilities cannot receive the forms required to participate in medical marijuana programs – regardless of whether or not they live in a medical marijuana state. H.R. 2431 would change this by providing federal protection to VA doctors who discuss and recommend medical cannabis.

According to polling released recently, 79% of veterans want federal law to be amended so that Veterans Affairs doctors are legally authorized to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.

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