The SAFE Banking Act is moving forward to the Senate after the US House of Representatives voted in favor in a 321-101 bipartisan majority on Monday afternoon.
The SAFE Banking Act is sending waves through the cannabis industry with the hopes to create a more amicable relationship between banks and marijuana-related businesses (MRBs). It would put an end to the federal penalties for banks who do business with cannabis clientele.
The bill, introduced by Rep Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) in March of 2019, has failed in the House three times and seemed like the proposal was going to die before it ever reached the Senate. But with the cannabis industry becoming more mainstream and cannabis stocks on the rise, there is more bipartisan support more than ever, and it may even be enough to pass the act in the Senate.
Proponents of the bill say that it will be bridge the gap between the conflicting federal and state laws. It would also stop forcing legal cannabis companies from operating only in cash. In a press release, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OE), a co-sponsor of the bill, said that forcing companies to operate as a ‘cash only’ business is “a nonsensical rule that is an open invitation for robbery and money laundering”. With expanded service to the cannabis industry, this bill will allow legal cannabis companies to operate more safely and efficiently.
Opponents, on the other hand, suggest that there are many gaps in the bill. Furthermore, some of these opponents suggest that this act wouldn’t be needed if cannabis wasn’t considered a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance.
Michael Grinder, partner at Greenspoon Marder practicing cannabis law, stated in an interview with Cannabis Business Times that, “If they include aspects of the MORE Act, which decriminalizes cannabis, then the need for SAFE Banking becomes less.”
Furthermore, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) has dropped hints that if a federal cannabis legalization proposal were introduced it would be his priority over the SAFE Banking Act. He suggested in an interview on Monday that the SAFE Banking Act could undermine larger reforms.
Nonetheless, the SAFE Banking ACT is heading to the Senate, where Schumer will most likely introduce the bill for a vote. If it passes, it will be a tremendous victory for the cannabis community in which banking services are needed, especially to minority and women-owned businesses. It will promote economic growth in the community and also increase public safety.
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