Congressional lawmakers decline to put cannabis reform in defense bill

A large-scale defense bill that advocates had hoped would serve as a vehicle to enact cannabis banking and expungements reform does not include any cannabis language following bipartisan and bicameral negotiations.

At the same time, details about the so-called SAFE Plus package that lawmakers have been negotiating are emerging, including the potential inclusion of language on gun rights for cannabis consumers. The deal could still advance as part of separate omnibus appropriations legislation or even as a standalone before the end of the year.

While hopes were high that lawmakers would seek to attach the cannabis proposals to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), pushback from certain GOP lawmakers derailed that plan ahead of a scheduled House Rules Committee meeting on Monday.

It’s still possible that members might file cannabis-related amendments to NDAA, but it comes as a disappointment to advocates that the SAFE Plus package was not included in the base bill, which would have been a strong sign of bipartisan support.

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