We have big news to share: Just now, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1595) in a 321-103 floor vote! Today’s vote was historic, as the SAFE Banking Act is the first standalone cannabis bill to ever receive a full vote in Congress.
This legislation would prevent federal financial regulators from punishing financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses. Currently, most banks are unwilling to work with the cannabis industry because they fear federal prosecution. A version of this legislation has been introduced in the Senate (S. 1200) and currently has 33 cosponsors.
As more states implement and expand cannabis-related programs, Congressional action is urgently needed to provide clear banking policies, which would reduce the illicit market, promote public health and safety, increase consumer safety standards, ensure broader patient access, help with business transparency and compliance, and reduce safety risks associated with running high-volume, cash-only businesses.
It is also important to recognize that the SAFE Banking Act, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, would strengthen efforts to increase the diversity of the cannabis industry. Many states that have legalized cannabis for adults have launched efforts to ensure that there are economic opportunities for communities of color that have been most severely impacted by marijuana prohibition. Access to capital remains an obstacle to this goal, and the SAFE Banking Act would help to address this problem.
MPP is proud to support this legislation, and we’d like to thank all of our allies who worked so hard to get this bill to a House floor vote. We’d also like to thank you, our supporters, for reaching out to your representatives on behalf of the SAFE Banking Act.
Onward to the Senate!
Marijuana Policy Project
In a landmark move, U.S. House lawmakers on Wednesday approved overwhelmingly by a 321-103 vote legislation that would pave the way for financial institutions and insurance companies to serve state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal.
Ninety-one Republicans voted for the measure, in a showing of strong bipartisan support.
The bill – the first piece of cannabis legislation passed by either the full House or Senate – needed a two-thirds majority of those present and voting.
For years, state-legal cannabis businesses have struggled to gain access to traditional financial services and products, hampering their operations and growth, and creating a significant public safety risk in what is now a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry.
While Wednesday’s vote is a huge historic step for the marijuana industry, this move alone isn’t expected to substantially change MJ businesses’ financial situations as they relate to banking – unless the Republican-controlled Senate follows suit.
Senate approval is expected to prove a higher hurdle, although Senate Banking Chair Michael Crapo, an Idaho Republican, recently said he is committed to having his committee vote on a cannabis banking measure. The strong Republican vote in the House bill also may bode well.
Read more at MJBizDaily.