The House on Wednesday greenlighted passage of the SAFE Banking ACT, allowing banks to cash in on the big dollar cannabis industry without facing criminal prosecution for money laundering.
Leading national banking groups, including the American Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America, as well as more than 30 state attorneys general, and the governors of 20 states, urged Congress to act on behalf of financial institutions and cannabis industry players who are now are effectively required to transact business in cash.
Wednesday’s vote occurred” under a suspension of House rules that limited debate and meant that two-thirds of the lawmakers present and voting needed to back the measure, “The Hill reports.
A total of 91 Republicans joined 229 Democrats to endorse the historic bill, written by Representative Ed Perlmutter, (D-CO).
The Senate is expected to take up its own version of the measure by year end, written by Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and a bipartisan group of 21 original co-sponsors.
Currently, it has 33 total co-sponsors in the Senate.
Bill Enhanced for McConnell
Dan Gardenswartz, Chief Financial Officer of Spherex, tells American Legal News, “McConnell is and has been the wild-card on this.
“Of course, passage in the House today will almost certainly light a fire under the Senate. The question is, what will they do, and McConnell is the gatekeeper.
“Some industry-watchers believe that McConnell may be supportive of the bill in order to help bolster Republicans’ chances in the 2020 elections (e.g., Cory Gardner of CO, a co-sponsor of the bill), while others believe that the House version of the bill has been “enhanced” to appease Republicans,” Gardenswartz says.
“Such enhancements include a provision to prevent the return of an Obama administration program called Operation Choke Point, as well as some provisions specific to the hemp industry, which happens to benefit McConnell’s home state of Kentucky [the nation’s top hemp producer].”
[Operation Choke Point was a 2013 initiative of the United States Department of Justice, which investigated banks in the United States and the business they did with firearm dealers, payday lenders, and other companies believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering.]
“All that being said, odds among industry insiders, watchers and critics range from 20% to 50% that the bill can pass before the 2020 elections.
“However, don’t forget that the STATES Act and the Marijuana Justice Act are also in play, so some if not all of the industry-benefiting legislation has a chance to pass over the near-to-medium-term.
“Bottom line, the industry has grown to the point, geographically and financially, that it is impossible to ignore by the Feds, and will only become more so, so the above and similar legislation is, in our view, all but inevitable,” Gardenswartz concludes.