In an historic 14-9 bipartisan vote, the Senate Banking Committee approved S. 2860, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act, yesterday, paving its way to the Senate floor.
The bill offers legal protections to banks and financial institutions serving state-sanctioned cannabis businesses, meaning those businesses can access crucial services like banking, lending, insurance, and payments.
While the House has passed an earlier version of the bill, the SAFE Banking Act, this is the Senate's first vote on this measure.
Although nearly 40 states permit medical or adult cannabis use, federal laws lag behind and remain outdated, not reflecting states’ growing support for cannabis. As a result, state-licensed cannabis companies are denied essential financial services, such as credit and capital access. Consequently, many of these businesses rely predominantly on cash, becoming prime targets for crime.
This legislation takes us a step closer to equipping these state-sanctioned businesses with the crucial financial tools they require, while simultaneously bolstering community safety and combating the illicit market.
Although the committee had initially planned a July vote on the bill, broader banking provision disputes caused a delay. The deadlock was broken during the August recess when a group of bipartisan senators devised a revised version.
During yesterday’s markup, the Senate Banking Committee approved an amendment proposed by Chairman Sherrod Brown while rejecting four others.
With the bill now out of committee, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his intention yesterday to present the SAFER Act to the floor for full Senate deliberation.
We anticipate Senators being given the opportunity to offer amendments, which might include promoting state-level cannabis expungements and ensuring gun rights for cannabis consumers.
Furthering this momentum, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently recommended reclassifying cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug.
While we're heartened by progress in the Senate, the journey to overhaul outdated cannabis policies isn’t over. Alongside Congress and our industry peers, we're determined to see the SAFER Banking Act and other sound cannabis policies cemented into law.
We'll continue advocating in Congress and building support in the Senate and House to ensure passage and enactment by the President.
We hope you’ll join us.