The marijuana industry scored a major victory on Wednesday, as the House of Representatives voted to let federally-insured banks work with cannabis shops and related companies in states that have legalized marijuana.
This was the first-ever vote on a stand-alone cannabis bill – which is known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act – and it passed the Democratic-controlled chamber by a 321-103 vote and on bipartisan lines, as 229 Democrats, 91 Republicans and one independent voted for it, while 102 Republicans and one Democrat voted no.
“This must be a first step toward the decriminalization and de-scheduling of marijuana.”
Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer
Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, and Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, in an opinion piece for FOX Business, argued for the bill noting, “Passing the SAFE Banking Act would mark a step forward for public safety in this country and would give financial institutions the certainty they need to fully support their communities. It would also demonstrate that Congress can still come together to solve the nation’s challenges.”
Next up is the Republican-controlled Senate, where it could be amended to gain passage. Its bill has 33 cosponsors, which means that a third of the chamber is now formally signed onto the legislation, counting its main sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley, Democrat from Oregon. It is not clear if President Donald Trump would sign any version that reaches his desk.