A historic piece of legislation protecting banks that provide services to cannabis businesses is scheduled for a vote this week, despite letters urging House leaders to delay the vote.
A landmark vote on cannabis policy is scheduled to take place this week by the United States House of Representatives.
Despite calls for a delay on voting by several representatives and civil rights organizations, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced on Sept. 20 that a vote on a cannabis banking bill was confirmed.
“We will consider several bills under suspension of the rules, including H.R. 1595, the SAFE Banking Act of 2019, as amended,” Hoyer stated on Friday, Sept. 20.
According to a report from Marijuana Moment, the vote is expected to take place on Wednesday. In accordance with the expedited voting process known as the suspension of the rules, the bill requires two-thirds of the chamber’s (290 members) support to pass. Already, 206 cosponsors have signed onto the bill.
— House Press Gallery (@HouseDailyPress) September 20, 2019
The cannabis banking legislation titled the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was approved by the House Financial Services Committee in March with a 45-15 vote. The SAFE Banking Act would allow financial institutions to serve state-legal cannabis businesses and ancillary companies without the worry of federal interference.
Amendments to SAFE Banking Act to Gain Republican Support
In an effort to garner more Republican support for the SAFE Banking Act, changes were made to the legislation ahead of the upcoming vote. The texts of those amendments were released to Marijuana Moment. According to their report, much of the changes involve providing guidance to cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp producers, manufacturers and retailers.
The amended legislation specifies that financial regulators are required to issue guidance and best practices in regards to confirming the legality of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products, as well as the legality of engaging in financial services with businesses selling hemp and hemp-derived CBD products.
Another section of amendments is targeted at preventing actions or initiatives from federal law enforcement agencies that would discourage the provision of financial institutions to lawful industries.
Opposition to the SAFE Banking Vote
Just days before Hoyer announced the SAFE Banking Act was scheduled for a vote, several organizations urged leaders to delay any action on the legislation due to its lack of social justice reform.
A letter addressed to Hoyer and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was sent by a coalition of civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for American Progress, Drug Policy Alliance and Human Rights Watch, calling for broader measures to be included in the cannabis legislation including social justice reform.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have come out in support of the advocacy groups, with both emphasizing the need for more comprehensive cannabis legislation with a focus on social equity.
A staffer for Ocasio-Cortez released a statement to Marijuana Moment indicating that the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district feels strongly that addressing racial justice should be the number one priority in federal cannabis reform. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated he agreed with Ocasio-Cortez in a Sept. 19 tweet.
“Congress should not enact banking reform alone and think the job is done,” Schumer tweeted. “We need decriminalization at the federal level, criminal justice reform, and investment in opportunity for minority & women-owned small businesses.”
More Cannabis News
To learn more about cannabis policy and to follow the developments on the SAFE Banking Act, visit our news page. Read the latest news reports on cannabis in politics, business, and scientific research.