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Better SAFE (banking) than sorry

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the US, which protects financial institutions from federal penalties when working with legal cannabis businesses, was reintroduced in the US House of Representatives on Thursday. The reintroduction fuels continued speculation that the cannabis industry in the US is poised to explode.

No more ‘piles of cash’

The bill, which was previously passed in the House but didn’t make it through the Senate because of pandemic delays, was introduced by a bipartisan group of representatives from Colorado, Ohio and New York. Although there was bipartisan support for the bill the first time, advocates are more confident that it will make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate — a game-changer for cannabis businesses who are limited by cash transactions that present myriad problems, from filing taxes to safety to customer service.

“Thousands of employees and businesses across this country have been forced to deal in piles of cash for far too long,” said Colorado Representative Perlmutter in a statement. “It is time to enact SAFE Banking to align federal and state laws and reduce the public safety risk in our communities.”

Growth opportunity

The legislation would also make it easier to borrow money, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association, which would fuel the growth of  small businesses. 

The American Banking Association (ABA) issued support for the act, but clarified that its support wasn’t linked to the federal legalization of cannabis, but rather for safety and compliance. 

In their letter to Congress supporting the legislation, the ABA emplored, “Congress must act to resolve this conflict between state and federal law.”

Whatever the motivation, dominoes appear poised to fall (slowly) in the US, with the first federal step around banking. But watch for the increasing pace of legalization on a state-by-state basis. 

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