The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 22, approved the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses without fear of penalty, for the second time this year, according to Bloomberg. This marks the fifth time since 2019 that the chamber has approved the bill, which has yet to be considered in the Senate. Before the House vote, U.S. Cannabis Council Chief Executive Steven Hawkins noted that most of the legal marijuana industry’s 2020 transactions – more than $17 billion – were cash sales.
Hawkins said, “Forcing legitimate, well-regulated cannabis businesses to conduct most of their business in cash is anachronistic and a clear threat to public safety.” Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado said that allowing the industry access to regular banking services could catalyze well-paying industry jobs and stimulate the economy. He took to Twitter to say, “[The SAFE Banking Act] will strengthen the security of our financial system & keep bad actors like cartels out.”
He continued, “Most importantly, it will reduce the risk of violent crimes in our communities. It passed the House 5 times. We cannot wait any longer to address this public safety threat.” The pending SAFE Banking Act would be a godsend for marijuana companies, which have so far been stymied by the necessity to deal in cash because of federal restrictions. This has resulted in extra security costs and logistical problems, even as marijuana increasingly becomes legal.
The measure, which has been passed by the House before with bipartisan support, was this time approved via voice vote as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Even though it’s still a far cry from the long list of legal reforms that the industry seeks, including all-out legalization and relief from tax burdens, it’s still great to see some form of marijuana reform come closer to fruition.