It’s a historic moment in Congress, but Senate support remains uncertain.
By Eric Boehm | Reason
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of letting state-legal marijuana businesses have access to banks and other financial institutions.
It was a historic bipartisan moment, and an important one—though one that skirts the larger and more important matter of changing how the federal government treats marijuana.
The bill was the first stand-alone marijuana legalization bill to pass either chamber of Congress. The SAFE Banking Act—the acronym stands for “Secure and Fair Enforcement”—would shield banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions from being held liable for doing business with marijuana growers and pot shops in states where the drug has been legalized. Under current law, any financial institution that so much as allows a marijuana business to open a business checking account could potentially violate a host of federal banking and drug laws.
“This action by the House of Representatives is momentus, and hopefully a step towards the Federal Governments formal recognition of legitimate medical marijuana industry. Naturally, if the Senate passes the bill next and it is signed in to law the controlled substance designation may remain a hurdle. However, State will now be able to better track transactions and collect taxes, and private industry will have access to more secured transaction which will encourage growth.”