The House of Representatives has again passed the SAFE Banking Act, a PIA top priority, for the 4th time this Congress. The SAFE Banking Act would protect insurance agents and carriers from federal prosecution doing business with cannabis-related enterprises in states in which such businesses are legal. Nearly every state has legalized cannabis to some degree.
The SAFE Banking Act has run up against strong opposition from Senate Democrats led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY),who have been withholding support for it because they wanted it to be part of a broader package that includes criminal justice reform.
As noted earlier this month on the blog, the SAFE Banking Act was removed in the conference committee for the America COMPETES Act, due to opposition from the Senate. Congressional proponents of the SAFE Banking Act, notably Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO), planned to offer it as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual defense authorization bill. SAFE Banking was offered on the House floor last night and successfully included in the NDAA measure, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.
This is now the second time the SAFE Banking Act passed the House as part of the NDAA this Congress. It was also included in the defense measure last year, but ultimately removed in the Senate. Senate leadership continues to insist that any cannabis bill include broader criminal justice reforms, which is why they have repeatedly declined to pass the SAFE Banking Act as a stand-alone measure and have actively removed it from other legislative vehicles like America COMPETES and the 2021 NDAA.
PIA will continue to advocate for the enactment of SAFE Banking Act this Congress.