Marijuana banking act passes in critical committee

Washington, DC: In the first of what is anticipated to be multiple Congressional votes to address the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, the House Financial Services Committee voted to advance The SAFE Banking Act, HR 1595, 45-15.

Currently, thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships.

 “Though it is just one component of broader reforms that are needed to, that are related to marijuana,” said Committee Chair Maxine Waters. “I have long fought for criminal justice reform, and deeply understand the need to fully address the historic racial and social inequities related to the criminalization of marijuana.

“While H.R. 1595 is the only aspect of these efforts that are within the committee’s jurisdiction, as the bill moves forward, it must be a part of holistic approach to considering these reforms. I would urge all of my colleagues so support H.R. 1595.”

The ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis — an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of these business’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.

“This is a positive step forward to address an untenable tension between state-legal cannabis marketplaces and federal marijuana prohibition,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Ultimately, the banking issue is just one symptom of the toxic and cruel policy of federal marijuana criminalization. In order to truly bring the vibrant marijuana economy out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to end federal prohibition and the discrimination the comes with this failed policy."

“This will certainly not be the last hearing of this Congress to have a high-minded conversation about marijuana and we expect a full hearing on prohibition to be scheduled in the months to come.”

The Gayly. 3/28/2019 @10:05 a.m. CST.