The 2022 elections didn’t go as well for the GOP as many had anticipated. Nonetheless, conventional wisdom suggested that giving control of the House to Republicans meant that all pro-marijuana legislation was dead for the foreseeable future. That is not necessarily true. In fact, the SAFE Banking Act is likely to pass both chambers of Congress this year.
Marijuana Moment recently published an op-ed piece detailing ten reasons to be optimistic about SAFE. This post will not go through all ten. However, two of the reasons pretty much tell the entire story. Let us look at them.
Support of a Clean Bill
The two reasons are encapsulated in a single principle: the GOP throwing their support behind a clean bill. In previous years, SAFE has always been offered as part of a much larger piece of legislation seeking to do more than just take the chains off banking institutions so they could do business with the marijuana industry. This has long been a problem in Washington.
Banking Reform Is All That’s Left
As Marijuana Moment explains so well, banking reform is all that is left in Congress. Several other bills under consideration in 2022 were killed. They will not be resurrected this year. In fact, they probably will not be resurrected in the 118th Congress. But banking reform itself, as a standalone item, remains very much alive.
When SAFE comes up for votes this year, it will be a clean bill that deals only with the question of banking reform for the marijuana industry. It will not be an amendment to another bill pushing for more progressive marijuana reform. It will not be tied to psychedelics. The bill will be a clean bill that only seeks to give banks the legal authority to work with marijuana businesses.
GOP Support in the Right Places
With a clean bill on the horizon, we see plenty of GOP support in the right places. Roughly half of the Senate’s GOP members have indicated they will vote for a clean bill. Over in the House, more than half of the GOP members of the Financial Services Committee have already voted for previous iterations of SAFE. They will vote to support a clean bill.
It is also expected that this year’s bill will actually be sponsored by the GOP. Rep. Nancy Mace is likely to lead the charge. But even if she doesn’t, there are plenty of other well-established GOP House members ready to take up the banner.
What Passage Will Mean
So, what will passage of the SAFE Banking Act mean? Assuming it is signed into law by the President, it will mean financial institutions have the freedom to serve marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal. It means that companies like Utah’s Beehive Farmacy will no longer have to operate mostly on a cash-and-carry basis. They will have access to bank accounts, small business loans, and credit card processing.
It means new marijuana entrepreneurs will have access to funding to get their businesses started. It means they will not need to store large volumes of cash while looking for creative ways to deposit their funds in personal bank accounts without raising suspicion. For customers, it means the opportunity to purchase medical cannabis and recreational marijuana products using credit and debit cards. It means greater access to online orders and home delivery
Simply removing the restrictions banks and credit unions now face could turn the entire legal marijuana industry on its head. The industry had better get ready for it. The chances of SAFE passing in 2023 are pretty darn good.