Only days after a coalition of attorneys general submitted a letter to Congress urging them to pass legislation to allow United States cannabis companies access to the banking system, the House of Representatives has given its approval to, HR 1595, also known as the SAFE Banking Act (SAFE).
SAFE was introduced on March 7, 2019, and is sponsored by a bipartisan group of more than 200 representatives.
SAFE is designed to create protections for banks and other financial institutions that wish to provide services to legitimate cannabis-related businesses and companies that work with them.
On Tuesday, September 25, the House voted 321 to 103 to pass SAFE with 9 not voting and 0 abstentions.
According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the passage of SAFE in the House marks the first time that Congress has ever held a successful floor vote on a standalone piece of cannabis reform legislation.
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal says that the vote is an important first step by Congress, but should in no way be the last.
“Much more action will still need to be taken by lawmakers, in particular efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act,” says Strekal. “Which is sponsored by the Chair of the House Judiciary—in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.”
With SAFE having passed the House successfully, the Senate still needs to approve their copy of the legislation before it can be sent to the President for a signature.
The Senate version of the SAFE Banking Act, which is sponsored by 34 Senators, has not made it to the floor as of yet, but it has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.