US Senate panel chair: Cannabis banking reform prospects looking up

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The chair of a key U.S. Senate panel is optimistic about the prospects for a cannabis banking bill following bipartisan approval of legislation in the House.

Such a bill, if it passes the Senate and is signed into law, would open up the banking floodgates for state-lawful marijuana businesses, which now deal mostly in cash.

Senate Banking Chair Michael Crapo, an Idaho Republican, told Politico that Wednesday’s resounding 321-103 vote for the SAFE Banking Act in the U.S. House bodes well for passage in the Senate.

Ninety-one Republicans voted in support of the measure, which would permit financial institutions to serve cannabis-related businesses without fear of federal reprisal.

“This is an issue in which I have seen strong support not only across the country from various banking institutions, even the small community banks in states that don’t have the issue, but also among colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Crapo told Politico. “I think there will be good support for it.”

Crapo has said that he wants his committee to vote on a bill before year-end.

But, consistent with concerns he raised in a committee hearing earlier this year, Crapo said he wants to add anti-money laundering measures to tighten controls around legacy cash.

Still unclear is whether Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, would allow a vote on the Senate floor.

A staff aide indicated in an email Friday to Marijuana Business Daily that McConnell has no comment on cannabis banking reform at this time.

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