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U.S. House Passes SAFE Banking Act

October 1, 2019

The House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act last week by a vote of 321-103. It’s the first piece of cannabis legislation to be approved by either chamber of Congress. The bill still needs to clear the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future, but it bodes well that it received strong bipartisan support in the House. Some 91 Republican members of the House voted for the bill, in addition to nearly all the Democrats.

The bill would allow cannabis businesses access to traditional banking by removing penalties that banks face for working with them. Although cannabis businesses sometimes manage to secure banking services, often through local credit unions, much of the industry—from growers to retailers—still operates entirely in cash. Advocates for the SAFE Act say the reliance on cash presents one of the biggest crime risks in the industry, as these stockpiles make a tempting target for robbery. It also makes it harder for law enforcement to detect tax evasion and money laundering.

Senator Mike Crapo, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said recently that he wants his committee to vote on cannabis banking by the end of the year.—Danny Sullivan

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