House Advances SAFE Banking Act as Part of the Must-Pass NDAA

House Advances SAFE Banking Act as Part of the Must-Pass NDAA

NORML Supports Swift Enactment; Stresses Need for Further Federal Reforms

Washington, DC: The NDAA funding package passed by the US House of Representatives includes the provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which allows state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to engage freely in relationships with banks and other financial institutions. The language was offered as an amendment to the bill by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D), Earl Blumenauer (D), Barbara Lee (D), Nydia Velazquez (D), David Joyce (R), and Steve Stivers (R). 

This vote marks the fifth time that House members have advanced SAFE Banking legislation in recent years. House members last approved the measure in April as a stand-alone bill by a vote of 321 to 101. At that time, all Democrats and just over half of Republicans in the House voted for the bill. 

“Enactment of the SAFE Banking Act would improve public safety and business efficiency in the 36 states that currently permit some form of retail marijuana sales,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal, “The Senate should ensure this provision remains in the final version of this funding package and approve it swiftly.”

Strekal 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 would still be 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.”

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 NDAA now advances to the Senate for consideration. 

In an exchange on Tuesday with Politico reporter Natalie Fertig, Republican Senate co-lead of the SAFE Banking Act Senator Kevin Cramer said “(I)f it’s a vehicle that can carry it, I think it’d be fine. … Any vehicle’s good that gets it to pass it.”

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