A measure that would enable financial institutions to serve the cannabis industry and ancillary companies without fear of federal punishment could be put to a historic full vote in the House of Representatives later this month.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, intends to put the SAFE Banking Act to a vote before the end of September, a staff member confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily on Friday.
The House Financial Services Committee advanced the bill earlier this year by a resounding 45-15 vote, and cannabis industry officials believe the full House will approve it as well.
Hoyer “said at the Whip meeting (Thursday) that he intends to move it this month,” Mariel Saez, Hoyer’s deputy communications director, wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.
“We’re discussing it with members, but it (the vote) hasn’t been scheduled just yet,” Saez added.
“Mr. Hoyer sets the floor schedule in consultation with other House leaders and Committee Chairs and with feedback from our members.”
A likely vote on the SAFE Banking Act in the Democrat-controlled House, which has been expected for some time, coincides with the chair of a key Senate panel expressing keen interest in advancing the issue as well.
Senate Banking Chair Michael Crapo, an Idaho Republican, told Politico this week that he wants his committee to vote on a marijuana banking bill by year-end.
But Crapo indicated his office might craft its own bill instead of trying to advance the SAFE Banking Act, which was initiated in the House by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, with the Senate version spearheaded by Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat.
Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, wrote in an email to MjBizDaily on Friday that the industry lobbying group “is delighted the U.S. House of Representatives is on the brink of passing a landmark piece of cannabis policy legislation that modernizes our antiquated banking laws to reflect the will of the people.”
Currently, the state legal marijuana industry struggles getting bank accounts and financing and, as a result, deals mostly in cash. That raises public safety and other concerns.
Don Murphy, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, described cannabis banking reform now as a possible “photo finish as the House and the Senate appear to be both moving to get bills to the floor before the end of the year.”
But he wrote in an email that if the Republican-controlled Senate is going to pass a bill, he would expect it to pass its own measure rather than the House-initiated SAFE Banking Act.
Jeff Smith can be reached at [email protected]