The Senate Banking Committee has made significant progress in advancing marijuana-related legislation to the Senate floor, marking a historic moment. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act, also known as the SAFE Banking Act, aims to allow legal marijuana businesses to utilize major financial and banking institutions. The bill was reported out of the committee with a 14-9 vote, garnering support from some Republican senators. However, it faced opposition from one Democrat, Senator Raphael Warnock. Presently, banks and creditors can face federal prosecution for providing services to marijuana businesses due to current federal law restrictions.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to bring the legislation to the full Senate for consideration, emphasizing the need to end the reliance of cannabis businesses on cash transactions. Schumer argued that the inability to access banking infrastructure stifles growth and exposes these businesses to various risks. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Jeff Merkley, expressed his commitment to building bipartisan momentum to pass the bill into law and put an end to the cannabis cash economy, ultimately improving public safety nationwide.
While passage in the Senate seems promising, the fate of the SAFE Banking Act in the House of Representatives remains uncertain. Some Republican leaders, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have previously voted in favor of the bill. However, with the slim majority complicating McCarthy’s current leadership, it is unclear whether he will prioritize the effort in this Congress. The journey of the legislation through both chambers of Congress will be critical in determining its final outcome.