A banking measure that would ease the way to basic financial services for hemp companies has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, and now heads to the Senate.
The proposed law, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, is designed as legal cover for banks and credit unions which provide accounts and basic services for cannabis businesses.
While the original SAFE Act, floated in 2019, was intended to help legal marijuana companies, Kentucky Congressman Andy Barr sponsored a hemp-specific amendment to the law that passed the Congress on Monday. The Kentucky Hemp Association, which worked with Barr in developing the amendment, applauded the SAFE Act’s passage.
Marijuana and hemp companies have struggled for years to obtain basic banking services in the USA, and hemp businesses have had trouble gaining access to credit card processing, insurance, and payroll services despite the fact that their crops and products are legal.
Lack of banking services has put marijuana businesses at risk as they have been forced to operate on a mostly cash-only basis, making them targets of crime.
Three previous efforts to pass the SAFE act failed in the U.S. Senate, but cannabis industry representatives say it may have a better chance after the balance of power tipped in favor of Democrats in last year’s congressional elections.