The US House just reintroduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, an act that if passed, would help the cannabis industry have access to financial services.
The act is being backed by Ed Perlmutter and Nydia Velázquez, Democrats, as well as Steve Stivers and Warren Davidson, Republicans. It also received 100 cosponsors who also support the move.
Because cannabis is still federally illegal, cannabis businesses have difficulty accessing banking, credit card processing, and business deductions for taxes. Cannabis businesses are often forced to be shady about how they do banking, or not bank at all and deal with dangerous amounts of cash. This act would be a positive first step to change all that.
“The genie is out of the bottle and has been for many years. Thousands of employees and businesses across this country have been forced to deal in piles of cash for far too long, and it is the responsibility of Congress to step up and take action to align federal and state laws for the safety of our constituents and communities. The public safety need is urgent, and a public health and economic need has also emerged with the pandemic further exacerbating the cash-only problem for the industry,” said Congressman Perlmutter. “In many states, the industry was deemed essential yet forced to continue to operate in all cash, adding a significant public health risk for businesses and their workers. As we begin our economic recovery, allowing cannabis businesses to access the banking system would also mean an influx of cash into the economy and the opportunity to create good-paying jobs. Thank you to Reps. Velázquez, Stivers and Davidson for their continued support and input on the bill, and I look forward to working with Senators Merkley and Daines to get the SAFE Banking Act passed in the Senate and signed into law.”
“The cannabis industry has been operating with great success, with many of these businesses deemed essential as the coronavirus pandemic took hold,” explained Congresswoman Velázquez. “However, without the ability to safely utilize the banking system, cannabis-related businesses are left behind and stuck resorting to tactics that can threaten public safety and economic success. That’s why I am proud to join Reps. Perlmutter, Stivers, and Davidson in introducing the SAFE Banking Act, to allow these businesses in states that have legalized cannabis to access the banking system, just as any other business currently enjoys. Doing so will help create jobs in communities throughout America, while stimulating the economy as we recover from the fallout of the pandemic.”
“We have a responsibility to legislate for the reality we live in, and the reality is that legal businesses in thirty-three states, including Ohio, are being denied access to the banking system and forced to assume huge risks as a result of operating solely in cash,” added Congressman Stivers. “The SAFE Banking Act is about keeping people safe, something that 321 of my colleagues recognized last year. I look forward to seeing this bill make it all the way to the President’s desk this Congress.”
In 2019, the bill passed the House at a margin of 321 to 103. However, the Senate did not pass it. It remains to be seen if this year is different, but advocates are hopeful.