WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today, in a historic vote, approved legislation that would allow legal cannabis businesses access to banking services and other financial resources, under H.R. 1595: Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
The bill was approved by a bipartisan vote of 321-102, including half of voting Republicans. Legislation would still have to be approved by the U.S. Senate to be enacted into law, but legal cannabis advocates expressed satisfaction with today’s vote.
“Having worked alongside Congressional leaders to resolve the cannabis industry’s banking access issues for over six years, it’s incredibly gratifying to see this strong bipartisan showing of support in today’s House vote,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “We owe a great debt of gratitude to the bill sponsors, who have been working with us to move this issue forward long before anyone else thought it was worth the effort.”
“The SAFE Banking Act as approved in the House would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis- and hemp-related businesses that are obeying state laws. The bill would protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes,” among other protections, the NCIA statement went on to explain.
The SAFE Act was introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) with more than one hundred other original cosponsors, eventually reaching 206 cosponsors prior to the vote Wednesday.
Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) first introduced the Senate version of the SAFE Banking Act, S. 1200, in April.
At the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), advocates urged further action by the House and Senate, to expand and update federal cannabis laws and policy.
Reacting to today’s vote, the NORML Blog stated, “Today’s vote is a significant victory for the cannabis reform movement and here’s why: 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.
“In the Senate, we demand that lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee hold true to their commitment to move expeditiously in support of similar federal reforms. And in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act—which is sponsored by the Chair of the House Judiciary—in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana,” the NORML Blog further stated.
S. 2227: The MORE Act of 2019, which is sponsored by democratic California Senator Kamala Harris, would reschedule and decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, as well as making reparations to individuals negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
NCIA will host a press conference with lawmakers and allied organizations to discuss the vote on Thursday, September 26, at 2:30 p.m. ET at the House Triangle, just outside the U.S. Capitol, the organization announced for interested parties able to be in the Washington D.C. area.