Today the House Financial Services Committee voted 45-15 in favor of H.R. 1595, or the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, a sweeping federal bill that would allow banking services to dispensaries, cultivators and other cannabis businesses.
The urgent need for the bill is highlighted by the fact that cannabis businesses in America are forced to conduct business and taxes in cash. The federal classification of cannabis makes banking impossible, because banks that work with cannabis businesses currently can be charged with “money laundering.”
The bill was introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, with at least 152 co-sponsors. The congressman has introduced similar bills since 2013. “Huge piles of cash are developed by these businesses and particularly create real public safety hazards,” Perlmutter said. “We can get the cash off the street so this public safety element is no longer a problem that it is today. This is the first markup of any bill concerning this particular issue.”
Perlmutter provided a reminder that federal cannabis reform bills like this one would require approvals from the Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and finally the Agriculture committees in order to move forward.
The bill now heads to the House floor for a vote. While it has strong chances of passing the House, the chances of it passing in the Senate are an entirely different scenario. Republicans dominate the Senate, and have far fewer support of cannabis reform, according to NORML. This bill, for instance, gained the support of 140 Democrats and 12 Republicans.
New today – ABA sent a letter to @FinancialCmte @FSCDems supporting the #SAFEBanking Act, which will help financial institutions navigate the conflict between state & federal law when it comes to serving their customers in states where cannabis is legal: https://t.co/IPcvBWpxpV
— American Bankers Association (@ABABankers) March 25, 2019
Leading members of the cannabis industry are thrilled to hear the news about the possibility of federal cannabis reform that would affect how business is dealt with inside the industry. “The SAFE Banking Act would go a long way toward improving safety, transparency, access and justice in the cannabis industry,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said in a statement.