The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was passed by the House last week and is now heading to the Senate.
Although 103 representatives in the House opposed it, an overwhelming 321 supported passing the act. It was a red-letter day witnessing such strong bipartisan support.
Of course, it’s difficult to say how it will fare in the more conservative Senate.
And, as with most things in life, the passing of the act in the House is not all wine and roses either.
How SAFE Threatens MORE
Critics of the act aren’t all conservative Republicans terrified of “hemp’s illicit cousin” (Mitch McConnell’s words, not ours) and its Schedule 1 status.
Some critics of the act include the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who are concerned that SAFE will take the focus off the long fought for Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE).
In fact, there’s a legitimate fear that the way the act is currently written will not only maintain, but potentially create even more inequity in the industry.
They don’t want to see momentum on marijuana reform stall out and had hoped for a more comprehensive bill that prioritized equity and justice for the communities who have suffered the most under prohibition.
So now the biggest hope is that the major reform legislation that was introduced by House Democrats in July that aims to reschedule cannabis and expunge past marijuana convictions will not become an afterthought.
So What Is the SAFE Banking Act?
You know how when you run a business and you need financial help, you can just zip on over to the bank or some other financial institution and if everything is kosher, they’ll help you out?
Not so with a cannabis business. This is among one of the many challenges of running this sort of business.
Because, archaic as it is, marijuana is still sitting cozily alongside cocaine and heroin as a Schedule 1 drug. And that means that financial institutions and other businesses that provide loans, capital, investments, or other financial services to cannabis businesses would not be protected by the Federal government.
The SAFE Banking Act would offer them protections.
And get this. The measure also protects companies that service cannabis businesses – such as plumbers and electricians. Currently, these non-cannabis companies are frequently penalized by banks for working with them.
Furthermore, because cannabis facilities often possess large amounts of cash that they aren’t permitted to keep in a bank, they are targets for criminal activity. The act, by proxy, would protect the actual cannabis companies and the neighborhoods that surround them.
Advocates See It As a Victory
Despite the fact that some House Republicans who voted against the measure have expressed concern the bill will actually give criminals and cartels easier access to these financial institutions, 91 House Republicans supported it.
This represents the first time in history that a House supermajority voted to ease federal cannabis enforcement. A milestone, to be sure.
So maybe the tides are turning. It’s just really difficult to know what’s going on in the federal government anymore these days.
The Senate is pretty busy right now taking care of year-end appropriations bills that have to be passed in order to avoid a government shutdown. And whether Mitch McConnell will move to bring the bill to a vote at all re-mains to be seen.
Do You Own a Cannabis Business?
If so, you more than likely see the passing of the SAFE Banking Act as a victory.
And we celebrate anything that helps cannabis businesses succeed. That’s why we specialize in cannabis marketing and public relations.
Contact us today to find out how we can contribute to the success of YOUR business.