Legal cannabis businesses are one step closer to easy banking with the United States House of Representatives’ passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act Thursday.
Legal cannabis enterprises currently do most business in cash due to the plant’s federally scheduled status.
The SAFE Banking Act protects banks and credit unions by preventing federal regulators from penalizing or discouraging them from providing financial services to regulated cannabis businesses. It does not, however, require banks or credit unions to provide services to them.
This is the House’s first-ever stand-alone vote on a cannabis bill. New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Scott Rudder called this “a historic day for the country.”
“The House has wisely chosen to make the process of starting and maintaining a cannabis business easier, in turn providing a boost for medical cannabis and legalization efforts,” Rudder said in a statement. “This is not only smart policy but will help create jobs and economic development. I urge the Senate to immediately take up and pass this legislation. Once signed into law, licensed and regulated cannabis businesses will be treated like any other business when it comes to banking, as they should be.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez introduced the bill to the Senate in April.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also released a statement following Thursday’s passage emphasizing the bill’s lack of social equity provisions and saying the senate “can and we must do more.”
Once signed into law, licensed and regulated cannabis businesses will be treated like any other business when it comes to banking, as they should be.
– Scott Rudder, president, New Jersey CannaBusiness Association
“With this legislation, we can both address the pressing need for cannabis businesses to access financial institutions and provide real restorative justice for those most harmed by the failed War on Drugs,” Booker said in a statement. “It’s simply not enough as it stands without reinvestment in communities most hurt by the failed drug war and while people of color are left to languish in federal prisons for marijuana-related offenses.
“Low-income Americans and communities of color have been devastated by the War on Drugs – we should be repairing the damage inflicted on these communities. The end we seek is not just legalization or access to financial institutions, it’s justice.”