After multiple days of thorough debate, the House Banking Committee voted to approve the SAFE Banking Act, giving legal cannabis companies access to banks.
With a 45 to 15 majority, the bill, introduced by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), will advance to the full body. The bill aims to protect financial institutions that service legitimate cannabis related industries as well as the cannabis businesses and employees who are forced to operate only with cash. “Being forced to operate a cash only business in an industry worth billions of dollars presents a public safety risk as these high volume cash businesses are frequently the target of violent criminals,” said Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY).
The passing of the legislation came to no surprise to democrats and republicans alike. Many representatives stated that it was a bill that the people wanted. “We’re here to respond to the concerns of the people of this nations not our own individual feelings about this issue,” said Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA). “Forty-seven states have already legalized some level of the use of cannabis and it would be a dereliction of duty to continue to run and hide from this issue that the public wants.”
Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) stated yesterday that he was not going to vote for the bill but that he still thought it would pass.
Amendments including those to protect insurance, introduced by Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH), and to support the growth of local and woman- and minority-owned business, introduced by Representative Katie Porter (D-CA), were also approved.
Floor action has not been scheduled yet but with the strong support from both parties, Democrats are hopeful about moving the bill forward.
Forbes reported that House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) said in a radio interview that, “If we have a strong bipartisan vote that will increase the pressure on the Senate to do something.”