The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act by a vote of 321-101 on 4/20. This was the fourth time the House passed a bill that seeks to protect banks servicing state-legal cannabis businesses from federal prosecution.
Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D) and Earl Blumenauer (D) sent a letter to a bicameral conference committee asking for the inclusion of marijuana banking reform in America COMPETES Act, a manufacturing and innovation bill that will be discussed by bicameral negotiators, reported Marijuana Moment.
“It is imperative that the final conference committee report of the America COMPETES Act include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in its entirety,” noted the Congressmen.
“As all levels of government continue to advance comprehensive cannabis reforms, addressing the irrational, unfair, and unsafe denial of banking services to state-legal cannabis businesses must be a top priority (…) The SAFE Banking Act is crucial for small operators, especially those owned and staffed by people of color and those who have already been punished during the War on Drugs,” they added.
“Urging my fellow conferees to include the SAFE Banking Act in the final COMPETES conference report. The federal government’s foolish cannabis prohibitions make small, often minority-owned, cannabis businesses vulnerable to crime. The solution: when #SAFEBanking becomes law,” Blumenauer tweeted Wednesday.
Urging my fellow conferees to include the SAFE Banking Act in the final COMPETES conference report. The federal government’s foolish cannabis prohibitions makes small, often minority-owned, cannabis businesses
vulnerable to crime. The solution: when #SAFEBanking becomes law
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) April 27, 2022
“Vulnerable communities cannot wait for the perfect solution for Congress to take substantial steps forward. The SAFE Banking Act is a critical piece of the reform our underserved communities and small businesses need. This legislation will make impactful progress in moving towards a fairer industry, especially for businesses led by lower-income community members and owners of color,” concluded the letter.
Why The Cannabis Industry Needs Congress To Pass the SAFE Banking Act
There are 36 states that have legalized cannabis for medical or adult recreational use. But it is not legal at the federal level. Meager guidance from regulators leaves banks dubious about whether they can safely bank cannabis businesses and other companies that provide them with products and services. This keeps most banks and credit unions from working with the industry.
As a result, businesses, workers, and communities in several states must deal in piles of cash because of the conflicts between state and federal law. This creates logistical challenges and, for many, threats to safety. Businesses that house large sums of cash are obviously vulnerable to robberies.