The US House of Representatives successfully passed new legislation that would allow banks to offer services to US cannabis companies in states where the use of marijuana is legalized.
The vote, which was coincidentally timed on the eve of the 4/20 cannabis celebration, paves the way in eliminating a significant barrier to development of a broader cannabis industry. US lawmakers voted 321-101 in favour of the bill, called the SAFE Banking Act, which will deem revenue generated by legitimate cannabis operators as legal and grant federal regulators the authority to create rules on supervising the proceeds.
As of current, banks have been reluctant to engage in business and conduct transactions with companies that focus on the sale of marijuana and marijuana-related products over fears of federal punishment. This has left cannabis operators with very few options except for a select few banking institutions, or conducting transactions in cash.
At the same time, “banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law prohibiting it,” said the American Bankers Association, which has been a strong proponent of the SAFE Banking Act bill.
The bill is now slated for the Senate, and if successfully passed, needs to be signed by US President Joe Biden. Prospects for Senate passage are now deemed more optimistic relative to previous years, after the Democratic party gained control of the upper chamber following the recent federal election.
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