Senators from both parties are supporting a plan to include the SAFE Banking Act in a separate bill – the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act – that is intended to bolster the nation’s supply chains and manufacturing, The Hill reports. The SAFE Banking Act, which would give cannabis companies normalized access to banking and financial services, was included in the House version of the law – the COMPETES Act – which passed the chamber in February.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (WA), the third-ranking Senate Democrat, is leading the effort and told The Hill she is “fighting every which way” to get the measure included in the Senate bill. The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House six times but has never been voted on by the upper chamber.
“This is a cash only business right now. It’s dangerous for the employees. It’s dangerous for the patrons, and it can be fixed.” – Murray to The Hill
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) is one of nine Senate Republican co-sponsors of the bill and told The Hill that he thinks other Republicans could support including the SAFE Banking Act in the legislation.
“We’ve got nine Republican co-sponsors officially on it, close to 50 Democrats,” Daines said in an interview with The Hill. “There are some other Republicans that I’m confident if we had a vote, would vote for it. So, we’ve got the votes to pass the SAFE Banking Act as a standalone, if we’d like to.”
Steven Hawkins, president of the U.S. Cannabis Council, told The Hill that advocates “really have an open playing field to push for passage of” the SAFE Banking Act because broader legalization reforms are likely on hold until the end of summer after Democratic leadership indicated they would delay introducing a bill until August.
“Clearly it’s not aimed for passage this Congress if it’s coming out in August,” Hawkins said in the report. “Even if it comes out sooner than that, it’s too late in the calendar year.”
In a letter to lawmakers last week, the American Bankers Association and bankers groups from all 50 states urged Senate leaders to include the banking bill in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.
The SAFE Banking Act is a narrowly tailored solution designed to bring this growing industry into the regulated banking system and provide much-needed visibility into its financial activity,” the letter states. “The inability of the state-licensed cannabis industry to access safe and regulated financial services is a pressing concern for so many of our nation’s communities and the banks that serve them.”
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