WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan bill designed to grant the cannabis industry access to banking services advanced in the Senate on Wednesday, according to CNBC.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act (SAFE), which seeks to protect financial institutions offering services to state-legal cannabis businesses, received a 14-9 vote to move forward.
“Forcing legal businesses to operate in all-cash is dangerous for our communities; it’s an open invitation to robberies, muggings, money laundering, and organized crime—and the only people benefiting from the current system are criminals,” says Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a lead sponsor of the bill.
The legislation, also championed by Senators Steve Daines, Kyrsten Sinema, Cynthia Lummis, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, aims to improve public safety and support legal cannabis businesses by providing them access to traditional financial services. It prevents federal regulators from closing accounts based on reputational risk.
Despite cannabis being legalized in 39 states for medical or recreational use, federal classification and prohibition have hindered access to banking and financing for the industry, forcing businesses to rely on cash transactions.
This Senate vote marks the first consideration of the legislation, which had previously passed in the House but never advanced in the Senate. The bill may face challenges in the GOP-controlled House due to changing political dynamics.
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