Lawmakers in the U.S. House stripped language to establish cannabis industry banking protections from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week before voting to advance the bill to the Senate. The $768 billion defense bill’s cannabis banking language had been lifted from Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D) Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
A bipartisan bill that has passed the House five times but has yet to be considered by the Senate, the SAFE Banking Act seeks to protect banks and other financial institutions that serve cannabis companies from federal money laundering charges.
I’m disappointed #SAFEBanking is not included in the NDAA bill text released today. The Senate insists on burying its head in the sand and deny every opportunity to reform our outdated cannabis laws to align state and federal law to improve public safety.
— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) December 7, 2021
Rep. Perlmutter requested during a meeting of the House Rules Committee on Tuesday that the language be added back into the NDAA but his request was declined.
“The SAFE Banking Act has been sitting in the Senate for three years and with every passing day their unwillingness to deal with the issue endangers and harms businesses, their employees, and communities across the country. My work on this bill is far from over. As Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer are aware, going forward, I plan to pursue every possible avenue to get SAFE Banking signed into law.” — Perlmutter, in a statement
US Cannabis Council President and CEO Steven Hawkins said that while the group is “disappointed” that the cannabis reforms were not included in NDAA, “we are heartened by the broad, bipartisan support for the … SAFE Banking Act and remain committed to advancing the legislation.”
“We see the consequences every day of the lack of banking access, from the rash of dispensary robberies to the ongoing challenges of minority and small business owners to secure capital,” Hawkins said in a statement. “The SAFE Banking Act would provide urgently needed relief to cannabis businesses of all sizes and put wind in the sails of the broader push to end federal cannabis prohibition.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D) opposed adding the banking bill to the NDAA, saying that cannabis reforms should be passed alongside social justice provisions.
“Our nation’s cannabis laws are fundamentally broken and in need of urgent reform,” Booker said in the report. “Although the SAFE Banking Act is common-sense policy that I support, but it has to be coupled with strong restorative justice provisions that seek to right the many injustices experienced by Black and Brown communities as part of our nation’s failed War on Drugs.”
Note: TG Branfalt contributed to this report.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe