SAFE Banking Act brings new life to federal banking for cannabis companies

Federal cannabis banking solutions took another small step towards reality last week when the House Financial Services Committee approved the SAFE Act (Secure and Fair Enforcement) 45-15 for a vote on the House floor. With widespread Democratic support, the bill, introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) is expected to pass the House easily. The bill’s fate in the Republican controlled Senate is less certain, but bipartisan support may drive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to at least allow the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

The SAFE Act would be a boon to the cannabis industry. Legal (state, if not federal) cannabis businesses have had limited access to state chartered credit unions for a few years, but the possibility of federal criminal liability for money laundering has kept big banks out of the cannabis game. And in states with limited banking options, that means many cannabis businesses are still dealing in cash, with all of the associated risks that large cash transactions bring.

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