The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow legal cannabis businesses access to the nation’s banking system. The measure, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, was passed with a House floor vote by a margin of 321 to 103.
If passed by the Senate and signed into law, federal banking regulators would be prohibited from penalizing banks that choose to serve cannabis firms doing business in accordance with state law. Under current regulations, banks are subject to penalties under federal money laundering and other laws for servicing such companies, leaving the cannabis industry to operate in a risky environment heavy in cash.
Activists Laud House Vote
Justin Strekal, the political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), noted the historical significance of Wednesday’s vote in the House.
“For the first time ever, a supermajority of the House voted affirmatively to recognize that the legalization and regulation of marijuana is a superior public policy to prohibition and criminalization.”
Steve Hawkins, the executive director of cannabis policy reform group the Marijuana Policy Project, noted that passage of the bill will result in greater opportunities for entrepreneurs seeking licensure