SAFE Banking Act makes its appearance in Congress

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A bill to allow banks to work with marijuana companies was introduced yesterday

A handful of lawmakers is trying, once again, to allow the marijuana industry to have access to banks. Several members of Congress have sponsored the new Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 and introduced it yesterday. The bill had been the subject of a hearing last month, and will hopefully – and finally – allow banks to work with marijuana entities despite current federal regulations banning the plant.

The SAFE Banking Act was designed “to create protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers for such businesses, and for other purposes.” It was authored by Representatives Denny Heck and Ed Perlmutter and follows the lawmakers’ previous attempts at introducing similar legislation. The bill was cosponsored by Representatives Warren Davidson and Steve Stivers, both of whom have a history of trying to get lawmakers to approve marijuana regulations.

On February 13, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions led a hearing on the subject of banking for the marijuana industry. That hearing saw participation from a number of experts, including the treasurer of California, representatives from credit unions and banks and medical cannabis producers.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) also provided testimony, as well as stories from industry professionals. The organization’s spokesperson, Morgan Fox, explains of the bill, “The SAFE Banking Act has been one of NCIA’s biggest legislative priorities for some time, and the sheer number of bipartisan cosponsors of this bill on introduction is a great sign that those efforts are bearing fruit. This level of support suggests that cannabis banking reform stands a serious chance of passing in the current session.”

This year’s iteration of the bill has already received significant support, with a total of 106 cosponsors. However, a similar bill has been created each year since 2013, meaning there are no guarantees the bill will survive.