US House Committee Passes First-Ever Marijuana Banking Bill

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U.S. House Democrats on Thursday advanced legislation to give cannabis businesses greater access to banking, approving protections for financial institutions for the first time in six years of legislative attempts.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act would offer legal safe harbor for banks and credit unions that choose to serve state-approved marijuana-related businesses if they comply with a set of reporting requirements.

The bill, approved by the House Committee on Financial Services in a 45-15 vote, is a top priority for a marijuana industry largely shut out of mainstream banking and forced to deal in large sums of cash.

“What we’ve done is draft a piece of legislation that is narrowly confined to the financial services industry so that … businesses that are legitimate in their states can get legitimate banking services—credit cards, payroll, checking accounts, lending,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, one of the bill’s lead authors. “Because we’ve seen that across the country, huge piles of cash are developed by these businesses and particularly create real public safety hazards.” [Read More @ The National Law Journal]