The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to approve an important bill that will finally give legal cannabis businesses access to the federal banking system. HR 1595, which is being called The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, passed a House floor vote by 321 to 103.
The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote. Earlier this year, the Senate scheduled a hearing about a companion cannabis banking bill. Thankfully, the House has now gotten the ball rolling in the right direction and hopefully, the Senate follows suit. If it passes in the Senate, it will then be signed into law by the President. If the bill becomes law, banking regulators at the federal level can no longer penalize financial institutions who decide to do business with legal cannabis entrepreneurs.
Currently, banks can be penalized if they allow cannabis business owners to hold accounts with them. These transactions are considered to be money laundering, and penalties can be serious. This has historically forced cannabis businesses to deal mainly in cash, a risky endeavor that companies in other industries do not have to deal with.
Long-time advocates of cannabis freedom, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are praising the House of Representatives for passing this important piece of legislation.
“For the first time ever, a supermajority of the House voted affirmatively to recognize that the legalization and regulation of marijuana is a superior public policy to prohibition and criminalization,” said Justin Strekal, NORML’s political director, in a recent story for the organization.
The passing of this bill could help provide a spark for cannabis businesses and boost stock prices, according to a report from Market Watch. Members of the Marijuana Policy Project joined NORML in praising the SAFE Banking Act.
“It is 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. Access to capital remains an obstacle to this goal, and the SAFE Banking Act would help to address this problem,” said Steve Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Hopefully, the bill is swiftly approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump. This is a good start for some much needed financial reform within the legal cannabis industry.