For some time the SAFE Banking Act was bringing unity to legislators in the cannabis conversation. As of last month, however, language about weed and banking has been excluded from the now filed Defense Spending bill. According to news sources, congressional leaders eliminated the provisions attached to the bill after an agreement on the specifics couldn’t be met.
The SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act was introduced to eliminate federal repercussions from banks that service legal cannabis businesses. As it stands, cannabis being on the Controlled Substance Act prevents banks from assisting the industry. A few can negotiate their way into a legitimate bank; but, most come with high fees and even higher requirements for doing business. SAFE is said to ease these issues while providing more accessibility to those hoping to join the industry.
However, some felt SAFE would not be as fair as it was proposed, showing little evidence that it would alleviate these problems rather than exacerbate them. Unfortunately, this has been a reoccurring issue with cannabis legislation across the board. Many states have been voting against cannabis legislation that doesn’t stand up to their standards.
For most this was expected. Very little cannabis legislation has passed through both the House and Senate regardless of who has control. Even more recently, cannabis has been used as a political prop for those looking for easy support. The SAFE Banking Act, unfortunately, was one that we all hoped would make it through. California, Oklahoma, as well as Las Vegas dispensaries have seen an increase in attempted and successful break-ins to their shops. Some, like the LaRue Bratcher case, even being national news for the implications that cannabis can add to a situation. Considering all of that, banking is an issue we can’t keep putting on the back burner.
Even more so, Las Vegas has recently passed legislation for cannabis lounges. The high threshold of entry for the industry keeps most away, despite the social equity clauses in the bill. As disappointing as it is to not see SAFE make it, congressional leaders holding out for legislation that would not further an accessibility issue is refreshing. Let’s hope this continues in the right ways and we see a return to cannabis banking legislation.