House Passes SAFE Act, Clearing A Big Hurdle For Cannabis Industry
The United States House of Representatives came to a rather surprising conclusion Wednesday. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act was passed in the House with a vote of 331-103. 229 Democrats, 91 Republicans, and 1 independent all voted in favor of the bill.
The SAFE Act, if passed by the Senate, would protect banks that choose to work with cannabis businesses despite cannabis’ Schedule I status. The bill would also protect cannabis retailers. Retailers would no longer have to handle and hold onto large amounts of cash, and their bank accounts would no longer be at risk of being shut down as long as they are not involved in any illegal activity.
Despite significant growth in the legal cannabis sector, banks have steered clear of working with cannabis companies for fear of potentially violating financial regulations and federal laws put in place to stop money laundering. This has forced those in the cannabis trade to function as cash-only businesses and has caused a lot of logistical issues. This bill could give the cannabis industry a fair chance in America’s capitalist society.
SAFE also includes provisions for hemp growers and businesses, expanding the protections they gained under the Farm Bill.
This could be a huge win for the industry as a whole, but are holding their breath, aware that the bill still needs to be passed by the Republican-held Senate.
Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, stated, “This bill is but one important piece of what should be a comprehensive series of cannabis reform bills,” a sign that the House is prepared to send future cannabis legislation to the Senate.