The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1595, known as the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, on Wednesday (Sept. 25).
The bill was sponsored by Congressmen Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Denny Heck of Washington, Steve Stivers of Ohio and Warren Davidson of Ohio, all members of the House Financial Services Committee.
The legislation aims to ensure that state-authorized and regulated cannabis businesses are not forced to operate with cash only.
The SAFE Banking Act passed the House by a vote of 321-103 and now moves on to the U.S. Senate.
Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters of California voiced her support of the legislation, as well as calling for the House Judiciary Committee to advance legislation to address the criminalization of marijuana.
“This bipartisan bill addresses a pressing public safety issue for businesses that legally grow, market or sell cannabis in states that have legalized its use and that are currently forced to operate with cash only. 47 states, 3 territories and D.C. have legalized some form of marijuana, and it is time for Congress to act,” she said.
“Cannabis-related businesses are locked out of the banking system, and cannot maintain checking accounts, process payroll obligations or pay taxes. The Financial Services Committee heard testimony in February that these cash-only businesses and their employees have become targets for violent criminals.”
She added that “the SAFE Banking Act addresses this serious problem by providing a safe harbor to financial institutions that choose to serve state-regulated cannabis businesses.
The bill would also help others, like plumbers or electricians, who provide services to cannabis businesses but face similar challenges with access to banking services.
With the passage of this bill, all of these businesses will gain access to traditional financial services that most businesses take for granted.”
Waters called this bill one important piece of what should be a comprehensive series of cannabis reform bills, adding that she has “long fought for criminal justice reform and deeply understand the need to fully address the historical racial and social inequities related to the criminalization of marijuana.”