- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2019

Congress on Friday neared consideration of a bipartisan measure to protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses operating in the face of federal prohibition.

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer told colleagues Thursday that he intends to have the full House of Representatives vote this month on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a spokesperson for the Maryland Democrat told The Washington Times.

“We’re discussing it with Members, but it hasn’t been scheduled just yet,” spokesperson Mariel Saez told The Times in an email.

Marijuana is federally outlawed on account of being categorized as a Scheduled 1 narcotic under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana for various degrees, however, complicating matters for banks who risk breaking federal law by servicing marijuana businesses.

Introduced in the House by Rep. Earl Perlmutter, Colorado Democrat, the SAFE Banking Act would effectively establish protections for state-legal marijuana industry stakeholders by stating that “proceeds from a transaction conducted by a cannabis-related legitimate business shall not be considered as proceeds from an unlawful activity.”

A total of 206 cosponsors, including 26 Republicans, have signed on to support the House bill, while a companion version led by Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat, has garnered the support of 31 colleagues since being introduced in April.

First reported earlier Friday by the Marijuana Moment news site, the House leader’s push to move ahead this month with the SAFE Banking Act came amid similar efforts gaining steam across Capitol Hill. Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo, Idaho Republican, recently said that he hopes to vote before the end of of the year on a bill to similarly allow banks to serve marijuana-related businesses, Politico reported this week.

President Trump, for his part, recently reiterated that that he supports letting states decide whether they want to pass laws defying federal marijuana prohibition.

“It’s a very big subject and right now we are allowing states to make that decision,” Mr. Trump said last month. “A lot of states are making that decision, but we’re allowing states to make that decision.”

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