Cannabis banking measure formulated in House defense bill


The House of Representatives passed, by voice vote, an amendment on Tuesday adding the Safe and Fair Banking Act (SAFE) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The measure, which protects banks that serve legal cannabis businesses in states from sanctions by federal regulators, has been introduced in every Congress since 2013 by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and has been passed five times by the House, noted the congressman in a tweet Tuesday.

“It will strengthen the security of our financial system in our country by keeping bad actors like foreign cartels out of the cannabis industry. But more importantly, this amendment will reduce the risk of violent crime in our communities, ”Perlmutter told the House on Tuesday ahead of the vote, according to Marijuana Moment. “This is a matter of public safety and national security. “

The classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug has made several banks reluctant to serve marijuana-related businesses, forcing them to deal primarily in cash and making them the targets of thefts, assaults and crime. thefts, cannabis advocates have said.

Representative Mike Rogers, R-AL, argued that the NDAA is not the right forum for SAFE Banking legislation.

“I think that [Perlmutter is] trying to accomplish is admirable and should be accomplished, but not in the National Defense Authorization Act, ”Rogers told Marijuana Moment.

But listing SAFE Banking in the NDAA may be exactly what helps Bill get through its eternal film, according to the Senate, researchers at BTIG have said.

“Discussions with our DC contacts suggest that he has an easier route through the Senate, in large part because no senator wants to be seen as delaying the massive 1,700-page NDAA not to be missed. cause of the SAFE bank, “wrote BTIG analyst Camilo Lyon in a research note, according to Bloomberg.

It wouldn’t be the first time that lawmakers have tried to link SAFE Banking to bigger measures. House Democrats tried to fold it into two COVID-19 relief bills this year, but the language was not included in the bill that President Joe Biden signed in March.

The SAFE Banking Act was passed by the House in 2019, only to block the then Republican-controlled Senate after former House Banking Committee chairman Mike Crapo, R-ID, refused to vote on the law Project.

The SAFE Banking Act has lost some of its cachet among some Senate Democrats, who have pushed for more comprehensive reform.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, Senator Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, unveiled a bill in July that would remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and would abolish federal non-violent marijuana. crimes.

This measure, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) – if passed first – raises the question of whether the SAFE Banking Act would even be necessary.

“The bank invoice only concerns a small part of the [issues related to cannabis], but not what to do. We need a big, comprehensive bill, ”Schumer said.

Booker offered a sharper view.

“I will do everything I can to stop an easy bank bill that will make all these companies a lot more money, instead of focusing on the restorative justice aspects,” he said. declared.

The New Jersey senator then clarified his position.

“Don’t get me wrong, I support the SAFE Banking Act. I think this is a phenomenal bill,” he said. “To me, a good bipartisan bill like the banking bill is a necessary sweetener to get people to move forward on the elements of fair justice that are really essential.”

William Bogot, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP, called CAOA a “wish list beyond the limits” that will likely face an uphill battle to become law in its current form.

“[T]The discussion bill will be negotiated for a long time, both before it is introduced as a bill and in both houses, ”Bogot told Banking Dive in July.

The SAFE Banking Act is not as controversial or contested as the CAOA by either party and would bring immediate relief to the largely money-based cannabis industry, he said. supported.

The Senate passed a stand-alone version of the SAFE Banking Act in May. The measure was passed by the House in April after lawmakers reintroduced it in March.

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