UPDATE: Congress OKs Cannabis Bank Bill with 321-103 Vote

A measure that would create federal safe harbor for banks to serve lawful cannabis businesses and associated companies was approved overwhelmingly Sept. 21 by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 321-103 vote.

The legislation would pave the way for financial institutions and insurance companies to serve state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal.

The bill required a two-thirds majority vote to pass because it was filed under what is called “a suspension of the rules.” 

Now, the cannabis industry deals largely in cash transactions. 

Proponents received backing from Republicans by adding hemp provisions in the bill. Ninety-one Republicans voted for the bill.

Congressman Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, and SAFE Banking Act sponsor Representative Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, joined to add provisions requiring federal financial regulators to confirm the legality of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products, and issue guidance to financial institutions. 

Hemp businesses are struggling to access financial services, even though that cannabis product is legal federally with the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018. 

The House Financial Services Committee pushed forward the SAFE Banking Act earlier with a 45-15 vote. 

Meanwhile, Senate Banking Chairman Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, said he wants his committee to vote on a marijuana banking bill by the end of the year. 

Crapo said his office might draft its own bill instead of advancing the SAFE Act.

Posted Sept. 21, 2019.

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