Since cash is cannabis, the consensus in the U.S. House of Representatives is by a large majority that federal regulators should not punish custodians for providing banking services to legitimate cannabis companies.
That consensus was announced during a 321-101 vote in April when the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act got bipartisan passage in the lower chamber, which repeatedly suggested that the federal government is responsible for financial institutions that serve the industry, provide a safe haven.
But that was a stand-alone bill that hasn’t made any progress in the Senate.
The question asked in the House of Representatives on September 21 was whether SAFE Banking should be included as an addition to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) spending package for the 2022 fiscal year.
While Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., Supported SAFE Banking as a standalone bill five months ago, he said Tuesday night there was no business going on with the NDAA. Rogers is the senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, which works hand in hand with the NDAA.
“This is a good law in itself,” said Rogers. “In fact, I voted for the Lord’s own account. I think what he’s trying to achieve is admirable and should be achieved, but not in the National Defense Authorization Act. “
The majority opinion came from Rogers’ opposition, as SAFE Banking was the first amendment to the NDAA package to be passed by vote. It is the fifth time that the law has been passed in parliament.
In the last Congress in 2019, the Lower Chamber overwhelmingly passed a standalone version of SAFE Banking, and members of the House of Representatives passed the measure twice more in 2020 under state coronavirus relief laws. But the legislation stalled in part because former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Never acted to schedule it for the House of Lords floor debate.
Clerk’s Office, US House
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., Speaks about SAFE Banking on the floor of the house on Tuesday evening.
In his opening speech on Tuesday as lead author of the bill, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., Offered the amendment as an identical version of the stand-alone law passed in April.
“This will strengthen the security of our financial system in our country by keeping bad actors like foreign cartels out of the cannabis industry,” he said. “But most importantly, this change will reduce the risk of violent crime in our communities. With the entire cash trade, these companies and their employees are targets of robberies, robberies, break-ins and more. “
Perlmutter said getting cash off the streets would make communities safer. In his home state, Perlmutter referred to Travis Mason, a 24-year-old husband and father of three, when he was working as a security guard and was killed in a robbery attempt at the Green Heart pharmacy in Aurora in 2016. Mason was a marine veteran.
After Rogers said the language in SAFE Banking had nothing to do with NDAA, Perlmutter reminded him that the matter was considered important by a MP.
Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said the reason the MP chose SAFE Banking was important because cartels control much of the drug trade in the United States.
“And while most states have legalized marijuana, cartels still dominate the market,” Davidson said.
In southern California in particular, sheriff departments from the San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties shed light on the extent of the illicit market during the recent extermination operations. A $ 1.2 billion cannabis seizure in July that resulted in 131 arrests was linked to Mexican drug trafficking organizations and Chinese and Armenian organized criminal groups, according to LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Davidson continued during the Tuesday night session and said, “For too long we’ve had a standard in America that said, well, you’re not going to put ‘these people’ on the bench, have you? And who “these people” are has changed. That prevents us from stopping the cartels. ”
In a letter to Senate and House leadership, cannabis advocacy group NORML claimed that NDAA is a suitable vehicle for SAFE banking arrangements, stating that almost one in four veterans report using cannabis, largely for its therapeutic effects .
Rep. Lou Correa, D-California, also supported the change on Tuesday, calling it a common sense measure.
“Cannabis customers and businesses are law-abiding citizens and businesses, but they must pay their employees, bills, and federal taxes in cash,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
In his concluding remarks, Perlmutter reiterated why he considered SAFE Banking an applicable amendment, calling it a “public and national security matter that is very relevant to the issues at hand”.
While SAFE Banking has gained notoriety in the House of Representatives, it has yet to replicate that reputation in the Senate. Though Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., And Steve Daines, R-Mont., Run the indictment as primary sponsors of the law in the Upper Chamber, where the law was introduced in March and has 39 co-sponsors.
About an hour before the NDAA change session in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Curaleaf founder and CEO Boris Jordan urged more than 500 listeners during a social media cannabis town hall to be patient with the reform efforts.
“There will be another chance in the Senate to get the right aspects of the bill,” Jordan said. “I can tell you that if you look at their bill in terms of the secure element of banking, Schumer’s people understand them. All the necessary topics are available. So it won’t look what it is now. ”
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), a broader reform effort aimed at ending the federal ban, was approved in July by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D- Ore., And Sen. Cory Booker, DN.J. Industry organizations sent feedback to the Senate trio in the weeks that followed, and the law has yet to be officially introduced.
When CAOA was first introduced, Booker promised to block SAFE Banking as a standalone system without major reform, but later backed away from that statement and expressed support.
While at town hall, Jordan said he believes Schumer will push SAFE Banking aside until CAOA has a chance at a pass for the first time.
“My understanding is that he will still try to get the broader bill, but he fully understands that something has to be done and it has to happen before April because after that … we are going into funding season.” With re-elections and primaries and all that stuff, ”said Jordan. “I think they’re going to try to get it through, and I think SAFE will get through on a bigger format. But I think it will probably be attached to another vehicle. “
While Jordan does not predict that any change to the NDAA package will sign SAFE Banking, he said “miracles” would happen.