Article By : Benzinga.com
The Senate Banking Committee has approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act, marking a regulatory milestone that has been in the works for nearly a decade. The bill is crafted to enable legal cannabis businesses access to banks and financial institutions, which up to now have been off limits.
“It’s been quite a journey,” said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The 14-9 vote provides the bill with sufficient bipartisan support to pass through the broader Senate, which has been the main hurdle for getting this essential piece of regulatory reform over the finish line. Indeed, this is the first time the Senate has taken up the cannabis banking bill, which was crafted in the House over the past several years, never having made it to the Senate floor.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), one week after it was filed with revisions that were meant to bolster its bipartisan buy-in.
“The key to addressing this risk is by ensuring that all legal businesses have access to the banking system,” Daines said.
Though several senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) spoke strongly about the social inequities regarding past and current policing over illegal cannabis possession but also the fairness of the current marijuana industry. Warnock, who supported the SAFER bill, says he hopes the bill will help those who have been most affected by the war on drugs.
Sen, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) agreed and added that cannabis should be removed from its status as a Schedule I drug. In late August, the Dept. of Health and Human Services recommended loosening restrictions on cannabis.
Now What? The bill will now move to a full Senate floor vote.
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