US House committee poised to consider cannabis banking bill next week

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A bill to provide federal protection for banks serving state-legal marijuana businesses is scheduled for markup by a congressional committee next week, a notable development for cannabis banking legislation.

Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, announced that her group will mark up the SAFE Banking Act on March 26, a process that means the committee is scheduled to debate, amend and vote on whether to send the legislation to the full House.

The Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which has been dormant in Congress for several years, received its first committee hearing last month under a new Democratic-controlled House.

The markup is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. ET March 26; a live broadcast can be seen here.

“The fact that the SAFE Banking Act, which has unprecedented support in the House, is getting the serious consideration of a markup is a huge step in the right direction for the safety and transparency of the legal cannabis industry,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), said in a statement.

It’s unclear whether the banking bill would even be considered by the Senate, but experts have said the measure has one of the best opportunities for success among the numerous cannabis bills that have been introduced in 2019.

The measure would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis-related businesses that are complying with state laws.

The bill, according to the NCIA, also would require the Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help credit unions and banks understand how to lawfully serve cannabis businesses.

The bipartisan legislation has 138 co-sponsors in the House.