The cannabis banking bill and the pension package could both pass Congress by the end of the year, analysts say

It’s been a long road for Washington’s Cannabis Banking Act and an independent measure targeting the US pension system.

According to analysts, both legislative packages now have a good or even good chance of becoming reality by the end of the year.

The bill, which aims to protect financial institutions that work with the marijuana industry



is known as “SAFE Banking Plus”, where the “plus” refers to the expected incorporation of some criminal justice reform provisions.

The cannabis banking law has about a 70% chance of being passed by the end of December, estimates Ben Koltun, director of research at Beacon Policy Advisors.

“There is a lot of positive momentum. Can you just agree on some of the outstanding details?” Kolton told MarketWatch.

Cowen Washington Research Group is also bullish on the move, putting its chances at 75% — up from 60% in October.

“We are increasingly optimistic that Congress will enact the SAFE Cannabis Banking Act by the end of the year. We are now setting a 75% probability of passage based on the election result, passage of a cannabis research bill, and broader progress the Senate has made on other bills over the past two weeks,” said Jaret Seiberg, analyst at Cowen, in a note on Monday.

In this month’s midterm elections, Republicans won a narrow majority in the House of Representatives while Democrats retained control of the Senate as GOP hopes of a “red wave” were dashed.

Evercore ISI and Height Capital Markets analysts are rather pessimistic about the prospects of the SAFE Banking Plus bill. However, they are not throwing in the towel.

“The parameters of a deal are pretty easy to imagine, but I have a feeling Republicans feel Democrats are asking too much of a concession — the plus in SAFE Plus — as part of a deal,” Tobin Marcus said. Evercore’s senior US politician and policy strategist.

Marcus puts the chances of the law passing during the current lame duck session at around 40% or less.

Benjamin Salisbury, Height’s research director, said in a note Wednesday that SAFE Banking Plus “has a decent chance of passing by the end of the year,” but his shop’s chances “remain at 35% given the lack of text to 40% and announcement of a compromise.”

“We should expect to hear additional rumble and progress once Congress returns on November 29,” Salisbury added. He also warned that lame duck sessions are “often overrated.”

Financial institutions face legal problems because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, even as more states are legalizing it. Lobbyists have emphasized over the years that many cannabis companies end up “unbanked” and operate largely with cash, making them targets for robberies and other crimes.

The House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act in 2021 and 2019, but getting the Senate’s OK has proved much more difficult.

Secure Act 2.0 deemed “truly non-partisan”

The pension bill is known as Secure Act 2.0, a follow-up to the 2019 Secure Act, which brought changes such as better access to pensions and a higher age for minimum distribution requirements.

Different versions of the latest retirement package have passed two Senate committees and the entire House this year, helping analysts to be bullish on its chances.

“You’re seeing concrete negotiations between Republicans and Democrats and between the House and Senate to get this done in the lame duck,” Beacon’s Koltun said.

Features of this year’s measure are expected to range from expanding automatic enrollment in pension plans to further raising the age for required distributions – from 72 to 75.

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Evercore’s Marcus said he was optimistic about the retirement measure because it was “a really bipartisan thing”.

“There are some differences between the House and Senate versions that they need to work out, but nothing that has any bright partisan battle lines,” he said.

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