A majority of the US House of Representatives today passed The America COMPETES Act of 2022, which includes the provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
This vote marks the sixth time that members of the House have advanced SAFE Banking to the Upper Chamber either as an amendment or as a stand-alone piece of legislation. The Act, which was offered as an amendment by the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), allows state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to explicitly engage in relationships with banks and other financial institutions – something they are currently discouraged from doing.
Results of a recent survey by Whitney Economics of 396 licensed cannabis companies reported that over 70 percent of respondents cited a “lack of access to banking or investment capital” as their top business challenge – ranking far above onerous state regulations or competing with the illicit market
“Enactment of the SAFE Banking Act would improve public safety and business efficiency in the 37 states that currently permit some form of retail marijuana sales,” said NORML Political Director Morgan Fox, “The Senate should ensure this provision remains in the final version of this funding package and approve it swiftly.”
Fox added: “The SAFE Banking Act is only the first step toward making sure that state-legal marijuana markets operate safely and efficiently. The sad reality is that those who own or patronize these currently unbanked businesses are still nonetheless recognized as criminals in the eyes of the federal government and by federal law. This situation can only be rectified by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances and there are a number of pending legislative vehicles before Congress that can accomplish this goal.”
Currently, thousands of state-licensed cannabis businesses are unable to partner with the banking industry due to federal restrictions. They are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, access loans, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Congress must move to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.
For these reasons, NORML has long advocated that federal lawmakers vote “Yes” on The SAFE Banking Act.
The America COMPETES Act now advances to the Senate for consideration. In the past, Senate leadership has either refused to move SAFE Banking as a stand-alone bill or it has permitted the SAFE Banking language to be removed as an amendment from other legislation in conference committee – a scenario that most recently occurred in December.
Additional information on the SAFE Banking Act is available from NORML here.