On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee approved the cannabis banking bill known as the SAFE Act by a 45-15 vote. The bill, which is strongly supported by RCRC, had unanimous support from Democrats on the Committee and received 11 “yes” votes among Republicans.  The SAFE Act is the first legislation voted out of a committee in Congress that would bring the cannabis industry into the banking system.  

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) forced the vote over objections from Republicans who attempted to delay the vote until legislation passed to de-schedule marijuana as a federally controlled substance or until further research is conducted into the SAFE Act’s proposed changes to existing anti-money-laundering statute.

The committee approved several amendments to the bill during the markup including a proposal from Representative Katie Porter (D-Orange) to clarify that credit unions and de novo banks would get the same safe harbor as banks under the safe harbor provisions of the SAFE Act.  The Committee also approved an amendment from cosponsor Representative Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) that would extend the safe harbor to insurers servicing the cannabis industry as well.

The SAFE Act is expected to pass the House in the coming weeks, but the path forward in the Senate remains unclear.  Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) remains aloof and has not signaled whether he will hold a hearing on cannabis banking.  Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, has also said he is not “pushing” Chairman Crapo on the issue yet.