(Marketwatch) – The U.S. House of Representatives once again passed the SAFE Banking Act on Monday, which would give the cannabis industry access to banking services. The bipartisan bill was co-authored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat who represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.
Perlmutter has fought to pass the bipartisan bill for years, but it has repeatedly stalled in the Senate. The bill provides protections from money laundering laws for any proceeds derived from marijuana businesses in states that have legalized cannabis.
“After years of bringing up this issue, I’m thrilled to see overwhelming support for this bipartisan, commonsense legislation in the U.S. House once again. I feel optimistic about the path forward for the SAFE Banking Act and, more broadly, reforms to our federal cannabis laws,” said Perlmutter.
Perlmutter says forcing the industry to operate in cash alone has to lead to burglaries and even murders including Travis Mason in 2016. The 24-year-old was shot and killed while working as a dispensary security guard in 2016.
“The public safety need is urgent, and a public health and economic need has also emerged with the pandemic further exacerbating the cash-only problem for the industry,” said Perlmutter. “In many states, the industry was deemed essential yet forced to continue to operate in all cash, adding a significant public health risk for businesses and their workers.”
The SAFE Banking Act passed with a vote of 321 to 103. Reps. Jason Crow and Diana DeGette, both Democrats, voted in favor of the bill.
Perlmutter notes that 47 states have legalized some form of cannabis and, he says, the industry is valued at nearly $18 billion. The legislation, he says, would also help Colorado’s economy.
“As we begin our economic recovery, allowing cannabis businesses to access the banking system would also mean an influx of cash into the economy and the opportunity to create good-paying jobs,” Perlmutter explained.
The bill also includes protections for hemp and hemp-derived CBD businesses, which Perlmutter says still have trouble accessing banking services despite the legalization of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.