In a vote of 321-103, the House of Representatives took the first steps to securing better access for the cannabis industry by passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act, “SAFE” Banking bill. Introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), the bill has slowly gained momentum as the cannabis and financial industry have continued to lobby and pressure Congress into acting. With over 206 co-sponsors, the House Leadership scheduled a floor vote under suspension of the rules thereby eliminating any amendments and the need for two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives.
SAFE will provide protections for financial institutions that provide financial services to cannabis related legitimate businesses and service providers (security, payroll, human resources, supply goods). SAFE generally prohibits federal banking regulators from penalizing an institution for providing banking services to legitimate cannabis businesses. Specifically, it prohibits a federal regulator from (1) terminating or limiting the deposit insurance because it services legitimate cannabis businesses; (2) prohibiting or discouraging a depository institution from offering financial services to legitimate cannabis businesses; (3) recommending, incentivizing, or encouraging a depository institution not to offer financial services solely because the business is affiliated with a cannabis business; (4) taking any adverse or corrective supervisory action on a loan to a person simply because the person either owns real estate or equipment leased or sold to a legitimate cannabis business; or (5) penalizing a depository institution for processing or collecting payments for such the cannabis business.
While the bill still faces uncertain Senate action, there is new hope that its passage may be inevitable.