SAFER Banking Act Passes Key Committee and Moves Next to Senate Floor

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act passed the Senate Banking Committee today and is set for consideration by the full Senate. The bipartisan proposal seeks to normalize banking for state-legal cannabis companies.

Full story after the jump.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act has passed the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and moves next to the Senate’s floor for consideration. The bipartisan effort is being led by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Steve Daines (R-MO), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The proposal seeks to normalize banking access for cannabis companies operating in states with legal markets.

“This legislation will help make our communities and small businesses safer by giving legal cannabis businesses access to traditional financial institutions, including bank accounts and small business loans. It also prevents federal bank regulators from ordering a bank or credit union to close an account based on reputational risk.” — The co-sponsoring senators, in a statement

The proposal looks a lot like the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, which has been introduced and passed seven times so far in the U.S. House, but which always failed to progress in the Senate — even when Democrats had full control of both Congressional chambers. The new bill aims for stricter regulations at the federal level, prohibiting banks from terminating cannabis-related accounts without “valid reason,” or for denying services based on “personal beliefs or political motivations,” the CNBC reported.

In a press release, National Cannabis Industry Association CEO Aaron Smith said:

“The committee’s approval of the SAFER Banking Act which gives hope to thousands of compliant, tax-paying businesses desperately trying to access the basic financial services other businesses take for granted. This uniquely bipartisan legislation has the potential to save lives and help small businesses; it’s time for Congress to get it to the president’s desk without further delay.”

So far, 39 U.S. states have passed legalization policies for adult use or medical purposes, and every single legal market has struggled with access to traditional banking services due to the plant’s ongoing federal prohibition.

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