House Passes SAFE Act ‘Marijuana’ Banking Bill, 321-103 Vote

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted in favor of H.R. 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, also known as the ‘Marijuana’ or ‘Cannabis’ banking bill, with voting 321-103.

The SAFE Act generally prohibits a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate marijuana-related business. This presents a mechanism for the cannabis industry and its service providers to deposit their cash in regulated financial institutions, which allows the needs of their communities to be met and to help those communities reduce cash-motivated crimes, increase the efficiency of tax collections and improve the financial transparency of the cannabis industry.

The bill provides financial institutions with a safe harbor for providing services to marijuana-related businesses in states where the substance is legal. Under federal law, financial institutions, including credit unions, could face regulatory sanctions if they provide services to cannabis-related businesses, in states where the substance is not legal, since marijuana is illegal under federal law.

“For all the right reasons, we see tremendous opportunity for credit unions in New Jersey to offer banking services to legitimate cannabis businesses,” said David Frankil, President & CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League. “The limiting factor continues to be the lack of clarity around the regulatory requirements – or maybe I should say the lack of regulatory requirements – in States where the substance is legal. Once the policy barriers are removed, any credit union will be able to decide whether they want to offer services based on potential markets and their particular needs.”

Eleven members of New Jersey’s representatives voted in favor the bill — Rep. Donald Norcross, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, Rep. Andy Kim, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Tom Malinowski, Rep. Albio Sires, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., Rep. Mikie Sherrill, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman for a total of 11 of 12 New Jersey delegates supporting the SAFE Banking Act.

Senate action on the legislation remains unclear, although Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id.) has said he may allow a committee vote before the end of the year.