The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed the SAFE Banking Act, a longtime priority for Coloradans in Congress and local cannabis companies.
The House voted 321-101 on the bill, with all Colorado Democrats in favor and two Colorado Republicans opposed. A third Republican, Rep. Lauren Boebert, did not vote.
It now moves to the U.S. Senate, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, and some in the latter party worry passing it will increase marijuana use and foreign investments.
The legislation, which has been introduced every Congress since 2013 by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, would allow credit unions and banks to work with cannabis companies. Because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, Colorado’s multibillion-dollar cannabis industry has operated primarily in cash since legalization.
“I hope this bill is an icebreaker for the House to take up other reforms and finally remove the conflict between state and federal laws,” Perlmutter said in a speech on the House floor Monday. He later added, “The fact is, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. (Marijuana) prohibition is over.”
The bill has cleared the House on several occasions but has never been voted on in the Senate.
Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck said: “I fully agree that we must ensure legal businesses are not operating on a cash-only basis. However, I cannot vote for the SAFE Banking Act in its current form. This bill opens up our banking system to abuse from drug cartels and illegal growers and distributors.”
Buck had planned to file an amendment requiring the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration and delivery of marijuana was done within the U.S., but the bill was not amended before the vote.
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