US House votes to give cannabis businesses access to the banking industry
On Wednesday, the US Congress' House of Representatives passed a bill which will allow legal marijuana businesses to have full access to banking if it becomes law.
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The SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act is the first standalone marijuana reform bill to ever pass in a chamber of Congress. It aims to protect legal cannabis industries by giving them full access to banks and other financial services, meaning customers will be able to use credit or debit cards instead of cash.
The floor voted 321-103 in favour of the bill, with Rep. Earl Blumenaur (D-OR) stating: “The states aren’t waiting for us. This is an $11 billion industry and growing. And it’s growing because the people and the states are demanding it. We need to step up.”
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Currently, banks dealing with these businesses can be prosecuted by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) and legal weed businesses run the risk of breaking money laundering laws and being stripped of their FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) deposit insurance.
Businesses have been forced to operate in cash, leading to tax evasion and being targeted for robberies.
The bill still faces an uphill battle to be written into law, with approval from the US Congress' upper chamber, the Senate, now needed.
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Neal Levine, chief executive officer of the Cannabis Trade Federation, said: "We applaud the House for approving this bipartisan solution to the cannabis banking problem, and we hope the Senate will move quickly to do the same.
"Allowing lawful cannabis companies to access commercial banking services and end their reliance on cash will greatly improve public safety, increase transparency, and promote regulatory compliance."
Oliver Payne is a freelance journalist, follow him on Twitter
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