Colorado Rep. Earl Perlmutter plans to reintroduce the SAFE Banking Act on Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives, Perlmutter’s office confirmed to Cannabis Wire. The Senate is expected to follow next week.
Perlmutter and the other House sponsors will hold a press conference Friday morning about the legislation, his spokesperson said.
The SAFE Banking Act would provide clarity and safe harbor for financial institutions that want to work directly with cannabis-related businesses. The House first passed the SAFE Banking Act in an historic vote in 2019, but the bill later stalled in the then-GOP-controlled Senate. Democrats have narrow control of both chambers and the presidency, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the SAFE Banking Act is a slam dunk. Further, the Act might not garner support from advocates who argue that cannabis banking reform should not pass without, or before, justice-focused efforts that seek to undo harms caused by prohibition.
The SAFE Banking Act would largely lift one of the biggest hurdles for the cannabis industry: access to banking services. Because cannabis remains federally illegal despite dozens of states passing medical cannabis laws, and 15 states and Washington, D.C. passing adult use cannabis legalization, banks remain hesitant to serve cannabis businesses, generally citing concerns over Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation compliance.
“Making the SAFE Banking Act the law of the land would mean thousands of cannabis businesses and their employees across the country would finally be able to gain full, legal access to the banking system, allowing them to be treated like any other legitimate business and greatly reducing the public safety risk in our communities,” Perlmutter told Cannabis Wire. “There is growing momentum for cannabis reform and the SAFE Banking Act is the first of many cannabis reforms Congress needs to address.”
On Wednesday, the American Bankers Association sent