US Senate Excludes SAFE Banking Language From US COMPETES Act

Washington D.C.: Members of the US Senate have Advanced an amended version of HR 4521: the American COMPETES Act. The Senate version of the bill, unlike the House version, not included provisions of the Safe and Fair Banking (SAFE) Act.

House members voted in February to include SAFE Banking provisions in HR 4521. This was the sixth time House members have introduced SAFE Banking in the Senate as an amendment or enactment autonomous. In December, Senate lawmakers also removed language from a House-backed version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Senate’s decision to remove the wording from HR 4521 means the fate of SAFE Banking will be decided in the Conference Committee — when leaders from both houses and both parties negotiate finalizing the bill’s wording. Some powerful Republican senators, like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have publicly criticized the inclusion of banking language as a “poison pill.”

NORML Policy Director Morgan Fox urged conference committee members to prioritize the inclusion of SAFE Banking provisions in the bill. “It is imperative in the interests of public safety, transparency and the economic viability of small cannabis businesses that this legislation be approved as soon as possible,” he said. “The Senate’s continued inaction on this popular bipartisan reform puts workers and customers at risk of violence, makes it harder for regulators to accurately track cannabis revenues, and perpetuates high costs and lack of access to cannabis.” capital that are increasingly widening the gap between large and small cannabis companies in terms of their chances of success.

Morgan reminded lawmakers that a growing number of cannabis retailers have recently been victims of armed robbery, as it is well known that such establishments are required to keep large amounts of cash on hand.

According to the most recent financial information provided by the United States Department of the Treasury, only about ten percent of all banks and only about four percent of all credit unions provide services to licensed cannabis-related businesses.

Further information on the SAFE Banking Act is available from NORMAL.

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