The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the SAFE Banking Act on Monday afternoon, sending the landmark cannabis banking legislation to the Senate for consideration.
The House voted 321-101 in favor of the legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) last month and is co-sponsored by dozens of lawmakers. The proposal seeks to normalize the relationship between the cannabis and banking industries by removing federal penalties for banks that serve state-legal cannabis clients.
The vote also represents a significant bipartisan victory: all of the Democrats and about half of the Republicans who chose to cast a vote supported the legislation.
Steven Hawkins — founding member and Interim President of the U.S. Cannabis Council, a strategic alliance of top cannabis advocacy groups, businesses, and individuals working to legalize cannabis — applauded the bill’s passage in a statement:
“This is the first step on the road to achieving comprehensive reform on cannabis regulation, and the bipartisan support reflects support from voters across the nation. The SAFE Banking Act provides small businesses, including many minority and women-owned businesses — and their 321,000 employees — with urgently-needed banking services. It enhances public safety and economic growth. We thank Speaker Pelosi for bringing this measure to a vote and the bipartisan group of leaders behind this bill, including Representatives Ed Perlmutter, Steve Stivers, Nydia Velázquez, and Warren Davidson. The Senate should also immediately pass the bill.”
The bill moves next to the Senate, where Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) is expected to bring the legislation to the floor for consideration — a significant step that was never taken under former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), despite the bill’s bipartisan popularity.
Schumer, however, has hinted for months at an upcoming federal cannabis legalization proposal and it’s possible he could choose to prioritize that legislation over the House-approved banking bill. In a Marijuana Moment interview after Monday’s vote, Schumer suggested that emphasizing banking reforms could undermine the broader legalization push.
President Joe Biden (D) — who supports cannabis decriminalization but not legalization — has not yet signaled whether he would sign the SAFE Banking Act into law, although Sen. Schumer has stated that congressional Democrats are aiming to move forward on the cannabis issue this year, with or without the president’s support.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe