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following this vote.
The vote signals that the House has a clear appetite for reform but it remains
to be seen if the Republican-controlled Senate will approve the banking bill.
Anticipating that conservative lawmakers might not support the legisla-
tion, Perlmutter moved to add amendments last week that were designed to
broaden its GOP appeal, including clarification (to the 2018 Farm Bill) that
hemp and CBD businesses would also be protected and stipulating that fed-
eral regulators couldn¡¯t target certain industries such as firearms dealers as
higher risk of fraud without valid reasoning.
¡°If someone wants to oppose the legalization of marijuana, that¡¯s their
prerogative, but American voters have spoken and continue to speak and
the fact is you can¡¯t put the genie back in the bottle. Prohibition is over,¡±
Perlmutter said on the floor, ¡°Our bill is focused solely on taking cash off the
streets and making our communities safe.¡±
¡°Americans across the country are voting to approve some level of marijuana
use and we need these marijuana businesses and employees to have access
to checking accounts, lines of credit and more. SAFEBanking will improve
transparency & reduce the public safety risk in our communities.¡±
Executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project Steve Hawkins said, ¡°the
cannabis industry can no longer proceed without the same access to financial
services that other legal companies are granted.
(continued pg 3 >>)
Hoyer weighed in on the need for broader re-
form in a statement Wednesday, ¡°I am proud to
bring this legislation to the Floor, but I believe it
does not go far enough. This must be a first step
toward the decriminalization and de-scheduling of
marijuana, which has led to the prosecution and
incarceration of far too many of our fellow Ameri-
cans for possession.¡±
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) re-
leased a statement saying that while he would
vote yes on the SAFE Banking Act, he is commit-
ted to marking up his legalization bill, the MORE-
The MOREAct would legalize marijuana, require
resentencing & expungement for old marijuana
convictions, & invest money in communities most
affected by the failed War on Drugs.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) applauded the Judiciary
Committee chairman for announcing he will hold
a markup of comprehensive cannabis legalization
House Approves Cannabis Banking Bill In Historic Vote
MOREAct comprehensive Cannabis legalization mark up promised
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September 25, 2019: The House of Representa-
tives passed a standalone marijuana reform bill
for the first time in history.
The chamber advanced the historic legislation in a
vote of 321-103.
All but one Democrat voted in favor of the bill
while 91 Republicans voted for it with 102 op-
The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE)
Banking Act, sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter
(D-CO), will protect banks that service the can-
nabis industry from being penalized by federal
The bill cleared the House Financial Services Com-
mittee in March and was officially scheduled for a
floor vote last week. The vote was held through a
process known as suspension of the rules, mean-
ing it required two-thirds of the chamber (290
members if all were present) to approve it for
2019 OCT/NOV #10-5
The House has previously approved cannabis amendments, including
one this summer that protects all state marijuana programs from federal
intervention, but those have to be renewed annually. This is the first time
a standalone reform bill was approved and the policy will be permanently
codified into law if the Senate follows suit and the president signs it.
For six years lawmakers have been pushing for the modest reform to
increase financial transparency and mitigate the risks associated with
operating on a cash-only basis.
A mood of celebration permeated the house after the vote, however, more
effort lies ahead for lawmakers and advocates in order to enact the bank-
ing bill into law this Congress.
After Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced his intent to put the
bill on the floor by the end of the month, several leading advocacy groups
including the ACLU, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and Center for American
Progress wrote a letter asking leadership to delay the vote until compre-
hensive legalization legislation passed.
The groups have expressed concerns that approving the banking bill first
could jeopardize the chances of achieving more wide-ranging reform that
address the historical racial and social inequities related to the criminal-
ization of marijuana. They said they were caught off guard when Hoyer
announced the vote.
¡°Prohibition is over. Our bill is focused solely on
taking cash off the streets and making our
communities safe.¡± - Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)