After receiving its first hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, the passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act — which would let cannabis businesses access banking services — looks unlikely due to ongoing federal prohibition, according to The Hill.
The SAFE Act, sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado), would create protections for financial institutions dealing with cannabis businesses. The Act has the support of several large banking organizations as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Some legislators on the committee, however, think that passing a banking bill before dealing with the disparity between federal prohibition and state legalization is putting the cart before the horse.
“If someone wants to oppose the legalization of marijuana, that’s their business. But the American voters have spoken and continue to speak and you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. The prohibition is over.” — Rep. Ed Perlmutter to The House Financial Services, via the Hill
Republican representatives on the committee, however, don’t see it Perlmutter’s way. Both Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri) and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) thought the bill shouldn’t be considered just yet. “Regardless of where you fall in this cannabis debate, we have conflicting state and federal law that we have to resolve,” said McHenry.
A cash-only business on the scale of the U.S. cannabis industry comes with many dangers. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Washington) said that while it’s good to see the federal government at least start the process of solving the issue, it was already too late to stop “dozens of armed robberies” that have already occurred in Washington.
It’s unclear if the bill will make it to the full House or Senate for consideration, despite the industry’s needs and the issue’s popularity.