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GOP Congressional Committee Removes D.C. Marijuana Sales Ban And Adds Cannabis Banking Protections In Key Spending Bill

A GOP House committee has unveiled a large-scale spending bill that omits a longstanding rider blocking Washington, D.C. from legalizing recreational marijuana sales and separately adds new protections for banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses.




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The House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittee posted its 2025 fiscal year spending measure on Tuesday, with a markup on the legislation scheduled for Wednesday.


The notable cannabis-related changes from past sessions come under the panel’s new leadership. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and the lead sponsor of standalone bipartisan marijuana banking legislation, is charing the subcommittee.


The District of Columbia has been barred from using its local tax dollars to implement a commercial cannabis market for years under a rider from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).


Lawmakers have attempted to remove the prohibition several times without success. But now the provision has been excluded from the base bill, a move that would require Harris or other supports to proactively seek to add it back in via an amendment.


Even President Joe Biden has consistently maintained the D.C. ban in his budget proposals, making it all the more notable that it was removed from a version in a GOP-controlled committee.


“As subcommittee chairman, I ensure the provisions in this bill only take strides to make our communities safer,” Joyce told Marijuana Moment on Tuesday. “I appreciate that a few of my colleagues have concerns with the safety of readily accessible cannabis products—I share these, but blocking their regulation only exacerbates these issues.”


Lawmakers in the District have enacted certain workarounds, including allowing people to self-certify as medical marijuana patients, but the congressional blockade has been a consistent source of frustration.


Also, the newly introduced FSGG legislation includes language to prevent federal regulators from penalizing financial institutions for working with state-licensed marijuana and hemp businesses.


SEC. 134. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling hemp, hemp-derived cannabinoid products, other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds, and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State, political subdivision of a State, or Indian Tribe. In this section, the term ‘‘State’’ means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and any territory or possession of the United States.


The protections are less robust than the standalone Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act that Joyce is sponsoring, as the restriction is only binding on agencies covered under FSGG, which do not include the Justice Department, and would only cover a single fiscal year unless extended.


The congressman told Marijuana Moment that “forcing cannabis businesses to operate in all cash is a magnet for violent crime,” adding that his legislation “remedies these issues by further safeguarding the safe, adult use of cannabis and increasing the safety of cannabis businesses and their employees.”


Senate Democratic leadership has repeatedly discussed their intent to advance their version of the banking bill this session, but it’s unclear when that might materialize.


The same Appropriations subcommittee under Democratic control similarly omitted the D.C. cannabis sales ban and included the banking section in a spending bill for fiscal year 2022, but it did not make it into the final package.


This current version of the legislation from the panel led by Joyce does include at least one drug policy provision that advocates oppose, including language preventing the use of D.C. local funds to manage a syringe exchange program.


The bill also seeks to interfere in various other local policy matters in the District of Columbia, including abortion, contraceptives, assisted suicide, voting by non-citizens, firearms, vehicle emissions and even right turns at red lights—highlighting the importance of removing the cannabis rider specifically for Joyce, the subcommittee chair.


Meanwhile, the House Rules Committee on Monday approved amendments to a separate spending bill that would authorize U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to military veterans and support psychedelics research and access—allowing floor votes on the measures, expected this week. The panel rejected another proposal to block cannabis testing for federal job applicants in states that have enacted legalization, however.

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