The House of Representatives recently passed a bill allowing banks to serve marijuana businesses without being punished for breaking federal law.
Dubbed the “SAFE Banking Act”, the final vote was 321 votes in favor and 101 votes against. All of the House Democrats supported the legislation, along with more than half of the Republican representatives.
Having passed the House of Representatives, the SAFE Banking Act proceeds to the Senate, which will pass or veto the act. It will require a majority of votes in the Senate, before going to the President for a signature.
Positive Reception for Marijuana Banking Reform
Officials in the cannabis industry hailed the passing of the House bill. Among the reforms introduced in the SAFE Banking Act include clarifying the term “legitimate cannabis-related businesses”, and removing such companies from being charged for money laundering schemes in the states that have passed some degree of cannabis legalization.
“This will unlock banking services that certainly will be a benefit to small operators in the space as well as social equity businesses,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
SAFE Act Still Needs to Pass Senate and President
This is the second time that a marijuana-related bill has been presented in the Senate. The previous time was when the Republicans held a majority, and it was rejected before it could receive a hearing. With a Democrat-majority Senate, there is a high probability that the SAFE Banking Act will receive a hearing in the Senate. However, the likelihood of passing the Senate remains slim, as the bill requires a majority of votes in the chamber to pass.
The Democratic Party is split on the legalization of cannabis, between the Senate Democrats and the President. Joe Biden has yet to comment on whether he will pass the bill or not. Despite Biden’s reservations regarding cannabis legalization, Schumer has vowed to “move forward” with cannabis reform.
For the time being, cannabis will essentially remain a cash-only business for patients and customers.
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