Cannabis banking reform deposited another decisive victory in the U.S. House on Monday evening, when bipartisanship took over the floor of the lower chamber.
Cruising to passage by a 321-101 vote, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which aims to bring safe harbor to depository institutions providing financial services to state-legal cannabis businesses, is the first major piece of cannabis legislation to be approved by this Congress. Democrats voted 215-0 in favor of the bill, while Republicans voted 106-101 in favor.
In the last Congress, the lower chamber overwhelmingly passed a standalone version of SAFE Banking in 2019, and then House members passed the measure two more times as part of federal coronavirus relief bills in 2020. But the legislation stalled, in part because former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., never acted on calendaring it for floor debate in the upper chamber.
House lawmakers debated the current legislation, House Bill 1996, on the floor Monday afternoon, just hours before the official vote. In his opening remarks as the chief author of the bill, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., said passing the measure is a matter of public safety, accountability and respecting states’ rights.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have either implemented or passed adult-use cannabis measures, while the majority of states have medical cannabis programs that depend on related businesses to remain fully functionable.
“Businesses in these states are forced to deal in cash,” Perlmutter said. “And the businesses, their employees and ancillary businesses can’t access the banking system. The fact is, people in states and localities across the country are voting to approve some level of cannabis use, and we need these cannabis businesses and employees to have access to checking accounts, payroll accounts, lines of credit, credit cards and more.