September 25, 2019 marked a historic day for the cannabis industry, as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act by a healthy margin of 321-103. This vote not only represents significant bi-partisan support, but it is also the first stand-alone cannabis bill to be considered, and passed, by the federal government. The bill will now head to the U.S. Senate, where its future is uncertain, but bi-partisan support is steadily increasing. The U.S. Senate Banking Committee has indicated it will vote on the bill very soon and that a full floor vote is possible before the year’s end. The bill has 33 co-sponsors in the Senate already, and there are indications that the bill could pass with some amendments.
Wednesday’s vote represents an important achievement for the cannabis industry, as implementation of the SAFE Banking Act would provide cannabis companies with access to banking, credit, and other financial services for the first time. Cannabis business is currently cash-only, which has presented commercial challenges as well as public safety concerns because millions of dollars are moving through the market without the security of bank resources. Additionally, cannabis companies are unable to pay taxes through traditional avenues and, thus, are facing various repercussions, including paying increased taxes in some states. Earlier this month, 43 state banking associations signed a letter to Congress urging it to pass the SAFE Banking Act for these reasons. This letter represents yet another indication of the strong tide of pro-cannabis business and regulatory policies that has swept through the country over the past 3 years.