In a 321-101 vote, the US House of Representatives passed on Monday the SAFE Banking Act, also known as the Cannabis banking bill. This removes penalties for banks that serve cannabis companies in specific states.
The bill, which passed due to a rare incidence of bipartisan support, will now go to the Senate for voting.
Cannabis Banking Bill Needed to Remove Barriers
Previously, banks remained reluctant to do business with cannabis companies. Even as cannabis is legal in their home state, it remains illegal under federal law. Rather than risk trouble with the feds, local banks refused to accept cannabis money.
The legal black hole left companies with few options for handling their money. Currently, they rely on small financial firms to process their transactions. Or, they simply restricted all transactions to cash.
The Cannabis Banking bill, once signed into law, will become the first step in removing barriers towards a national cannabis industry.
Bankers Lobbied For The Bill’s Passage
The bill clarifies once and for all that income derived from legitimate cannabis businesses will remain legal. In addition, the bill will direct federal regulators to draft further rules to govern cannabis banking activities.
The American Bankers Association (ABA) lobbied aggressively for the SAFE Banking bill. In a letter, the ABA gave their full support for the bill’s passage.
“Banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law prohibiting it. Congress must act to resolve this conflict,” members wrote in a joint statement.
Majority of States Allow Medical Use, While Many Allow Recreational Purposes
Once passed, the bill forbids federal banking regulators from penalizing banks and other institutions for serving cannabis businesses. A total of 36 states and four territories already authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Meanwhile, 17 states approved cannabis for recreational use. However, federal regulations still consider marijuana as a prohibited substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Because of this, banks that provide services to cannabis businesses can face charges and penalties under federal money laundering laws.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), earlier said that he will try to advance legislation legalizing marijuana use for adults. This can mean a federal decriminalization law for cannabis.
For the SAFE Banking Act, he said he would like to see the bill move forward as part of a more comprehensive cannabis measure. He added it wouldn’t matter if President Joe Biden isn’t supporting the measure.
Watch the Forbes Breaking News video, where Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz Slams “War On Drugs,” Commends Democrats For Marijuana Banking Bill:
Do you support the passage of the SAFE Banking Act or more known as the Cannabis Banking bill? Do you think that cannabis companies should have access to banks like any other business?
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