Senate could be positive on SAFE Act

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Banks could soon be able to work with cannabis companies free and clear

The House of Representatives showed its support for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act by a vote of 321-103 last week. That level of approval is a strong indication of the changing environment toward cannabis on Capitol Hill and, now, it’s up to the Senate to respond. There has been more trepidation that the bill may not receive the same level of recognition, but analysts are beginning to expect a surprise.

Isaac Boltansky of Compass Point explains, “We believe the House’s bipartisan clearance of the cannabis banking bill – which was an oasis of compromise in a day of partisanship – should be viewed as a tailwind for the bill’s prospects in the Senate.” Approval by the Senate won’t have an immediate effect on the state of cannabis banking, but it will certainly be a catalyst to an ever larger expansion on the part of the federal government.

Boltansky isn’t the only one to be optimistic. Jaret Seiberg of Cowen asserts that the House vote “should add to momentum with Senate Banking expected to vote this fall on the measure,” and that it could set the stage for the SAFE Act being introduced as law before the elections in November of next year. He cautions, though, that some bigger banks “are likely to see the compliance headaches as not worth the benefit of entering this space,” adding that publicly traded real estate investment trusts “will be able to service the cannabis sector and still retain their access to the capital markets.”

It isn’t clear when the Senate may start working on the SAFE Act, or how long it might take for a decision to be reached. However, the general sentiment on the part of the population is for change and this is going to be key heading into an election year.