According to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), the cannabis banking reform (SAFE Banking Act) could be passed in a matter of months — or even weeks. If you are unfamiliar with the SAFE Banking Act, it shields banks and credit unions from federal penalties for serving legal cannabis companies (this is needed because these cannabis companies are not federally legal.) The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House of Representatives six times in recent years, but the Senate has always voted against it.
Most recently, a version of the SAFE Banking Act is currently contained within the America COMPETES Act. The America COMPETES Act is a massive bill aimed at revitalizing the economy. Both the House and the Senate have passed different version of the America COMPETES Act; the House bill contains the SAFE Banking Act, and the Senate version does not.
In order for the America COMPETES Act to continue its journey in life, the House and Senate will need to develop a compromise bill that both chambers can agree on. It is unknown is the SAFE Banking Act will survive that process. It is not the first time a bill has contained the SAFE Banking Act and later had it removed.
However, there is a recent trend that may cause the SAFE Banking Act to not be removed from the bill.
Violent Trends Make The SAFE Banking Act a Priority
There is a rising realization in Congress that people in the cannabis industry at suffering violence, trauma, and economic harm at an alarming scale due to the lack of access to banking services. Almost all cannabis businesses operate on a cash-only scale. This has lead to hundreds of state legal, tax-paying businesses having to deal with violent armed robberies that have led to employees being murdered.
“We’ve seen 200 violent attacks in the last year against state-legal cannabis businesses in Oregon,” said Blumenauer. “That’s a 150% increase. In the state of Washington, there have been 196 incidents since January, including people being killed in the commission of these crimes. This poses a threat especially to the smaller operators, the minority cannabis entrepreneurs, who can only deal in cash. It’s hopelessly unfair.”
Why Has the SAFE Banking Act Not Passed Already?
Traditionally, as mentioned earlier, the SAFE Banking Act has been attached to other bills for it to pass. Some lawmakers have felt that the SAFE Banking Act didn't belong with those bills — hence its removal at later stages. In addition, Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) has vowed to block the passage of SAFE Banking. Booker has argued that it should wait behind a full legalization bill that contains social equity measures. However, Booker's argument no longer holds power as the stream of armed robberies has exposed the vulnerability of businesses, minority entrepreneurs, and employees of color.
When talking about equity, Blumenauer said, that conversation is about “the people who pay the price [right now] in violence. This is a direct assault against low-income people of color, people in emerging markets—they’re the ones who are at risk for this violence. I want that solved. The folks we’re concerned about [with regard to equity provisions] are smaller operations, people of color—and they are on the front lines of this violence.”
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Green Plant News was started to get you the most important news about cannabis/hemp legality, as well as other important developments. We choose the name Green Plant News because many platforms still will not allow us to even say the word “cannabis”. Because of this, especially in new users, they do not have the information they need which can lead to making uninformed decisions — including purchasing cannabinoid products from the black market. Not only is this foolish, but it’s incredibly dangerous (so far as to be life threatening). It’s our mission to give you the education you need to make the decisions you want to, to support the bills you want to, and to live how you want to.