DENVER – Congressman Ed Perlmutter’s signature marijuana banking bill again passed the House Friday as part of a broader package, and he is hopeful it could finally pass the Senate before he leaves office.
Perlmutter’s SAFE Banking Act was included in the America COMPETES Act as an amendment, and the full package was approved Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives. The America COMPETES Act is a package focused on reinvesting in American manufacturing and research and is based on making the U.S. more competitive in the global marketplace as China’s manufacturing industry continues to grow.
The measure’s passage marks the sixth time the SAFE Banking Act has passed the House, though it has never been taken up in the Senate despite having 40 current cosponsors. It most recently passed the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in December after passing last April as well.
Perlmutter’s SAFE Banking Act would allow marijuana businesses to utilize the banking system – something businesses in states where it is legal have asked for for years in order to increase safety and not have to operate on a mostly cash-only basis.
“Cannabis-related businesses – big and small – and their employees are in desperate need of access to the banking system and access to capital in order to operate in an efficient, safe manner and compete in the growing global cannabis marketplace. The SAFE Banking Act is the best opportunity to enact some type of federal cannabis reform this year and will serve as the first of many steps to help ensure cannabis businesses are treated the same as any other legal, legitimate business,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “I’m glad to see it included in the America COMPETES Act and I will keep pushing to ensure it remains in the final package negotiated with the Senate.”
A similar, but not identical, bill to the America COMPETES Act passed the Senate last year. CNN reported that a Democratic aide said the House and Senate could go to a conference committee to hash out the differences between the two pieces of legislation, so it’s still unclear whether that final measure will include Perlmutter’s bill.
Most of Colorado’s Democrats have endorsed the SAFE Banking Act. None of Colorado’s Republican U.S. House members voted to approve the America COMPETES Act.