In a landmark development, the House Financial Services Committee voted 45-15 today to approve legislation paving the way for banks to do business with cannabis companies.
With 10 states currently providing legal recreational access to cannabis and a total of 37 states allowing medicinal cannabis, firms operating in the space have been stymied by federal law preventing banks form doing business with them.
The banking bill “addresses an urgent public safety concern for legitimate businesses that currently have no recourse but to operate with just cash,” said Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Key to the bill is limiting the power of Federal regulators to take action against banks that are working with firms already engaged in cannabis activities that abide by legal state, local, or Indian tribe laws.
Solving this bottleneck is huge for the cannabis industry as many operators still rely on cash transactions since banks will not engage due to federal restrictions.
The Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, currently has 152 cosponsors including 12 Republicans.
“It is our job to address this and no longer ignore it. I have brought this legislation up for six years,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), the SAFE Banking Act’s lead sponsor. “The people of this country sort of took it into their own hands, state by state, to pass initiative for medical marijuana or for cannabis oil or fully legal.”
Many see this move as yet another step towards cannabis normalization and the removal of cannabis as a Schedule I Federally regulated substance.
“This is a positive step forward to address an untenable tension between state-legal cannabis marketplaces and federal marijuana prohibition,” he said. “Ultimately, the banking issue is just one symptom of the toxic and cruel policy of federal marijuana criminalization. In order to truly bring the vibrant marijuana economy out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to end federal prohibition and the discrimination that comes with this failed policy.”
For more on this breaking news check out the full article in Forbes.