(The story has been updated to reflect that the SAFE Banking Act has officially been reintroduced.)
A bill to reform cannabis banking was reintroduced in the US House of Representatives on Thursday, according to Congress officials.
Parliament passed the SAFE Banking Act (Secure and Fair Enforcement) in September 2019 with a non-partisan vote of 321 to 103 votes, but the measure came to a standstill in the Senate.
Since it was not passed by the full Congress in the last legislative cycle, the law had to be reintroduced to be allowed into law during the two-year term that began in January.
SAFE is expected to be reintroduced in the Senate within a few weeks.
Experts are optimistic about the chances of cannabis banking reform after the Democrats take control of both houses of Congress.
Marijuana industry officials have identified cannabis banking reform as critical in securing traditional banking services and the capital needed to start and run businesses.
The SAFE Banking Act will allow financial institutions to service state-approved marijuana businesses without fear of federal prosecution.
“At a time when small businesses need all the support they can get, and after cannabis companies have provided essential services with substantial to no financial relief and generated significant tax revenues for states and the federal government, the SAFE Banking Act is more imperative than ever into law, “said Aaron Smith, CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association, in a statement.
“Lack of access to banking services continues to create serious unnecessary public safety, transparency and access to traditional credit problems that smaller operators desperately need,” he added.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, has spearheaded efforts to pass the SAFE Banking Act in previous sessions, focusing in large part on the public safety risk of a primarily cash marijuana industry.
Senate Republicans have been more open to cannabis banking reform than broader measures like banning marijuana. But the passage is still a bit uncertain.
Senate proposals require 60 votes with a few exceptions. If the filibuster of Congress comes to an end, as some Democrats are pushing, the bills only need majority support.
– Jeff Smith