Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (the “SAFE Banking Act”) in a historic and bipartisan vote, 321-103. The SAFE Banking Act would create a safe harbor for financial institutions who desire to do business with state-legal cannabis businesses. It is the first standalone piece of cannabis legislation to reach the House floor, let alone pass.
Attention now turns to the U.S. Senate. A companion bill currently has 33 sponsors in the Senate, and recently Senate Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-ID) indicated he will present some type of cannabis banking reform bill to the Senate Banking Committee for a vote (see this blog post for more details). If passed out of committee, that bill would go to the full Senate and its fate would rest in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who would ultimately decide whether to bring the bill to a floor vote. Senator McConnell is not a marijuana legalization advocate (although he is a hemp advocate), but there remains significant outside pressure to address the banking problems plaguing the legal marijuana industry. We are cautiously optimistic about the prospects of Senate passage.
We are celebrating this historic (and long overdue) event, while also recognizing there is work left to be done. We will continue to report on banking reform issues on our blog.