WASHINGTON — PRESS RELEASE — By a vote of 45-15, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bipartisan bill Thursday aimed at ensuring state-legal cannabis businesses are able to access basic banking and financial services. It is the first time a bill related to cannabis banking has been approved by a congressional committee.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (HR 1595) was introduced earlier this month by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and a bipartisan group of 108 original cosponsors. It currently has 152 total cosponsors in the House.
The legislation would prevent federal regulators from punishing financial institutions for providing services to cannabis-related businesses operating in compliance with state laws. While some cannabis businesses have been able to find banking services, most banks are unwilling to work with them because they fear federal prosecution. As a result, many cannabis businesses are forced to operate entirely in cash.
Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “This is a historic and critical step forward for the nation's burgeoning cannabis industry. Lawmakers seem to recognize the urgency and public safety implications of ensuring cannabis businesses can access banking services. Regardless of where members stand on legalization, they can agree that it is in the public interest to make banking available to cannabis businesses in states where it is legal. We hope the full House will follow the committee's recommendation and advance this important legislation.
"Many cannabis-related businesses are currently unable to get bank accounts and must operate entirely in cash, making them, their employees and their customers potential targets for crime. Cannabis companies that are operating in full compliance with state and local laws should have the same ability to access banking services as any other legal business."