U.S. House Passes Bill to Protect Banks Serving Marijuana Firms

By: Robert T. Smith

Last Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE) by a vote of 321-103, with 91 Republicans voting in favor. SAFE protects banks that serve marijuana businesses operating legally at the state level. Specifically, the legislation would prevent regulators from penalizing banks solely for serving legal operators.

The bill represents the first standalone marijuana reform bill to be taken up by the House, with the vote coming two months after the first federal hearings examining the problems created by the lack of access to banking services for cannabis firms.

With the focus now on the Senate, Banking Chairman Mike Crapo has indicated his intentions for a vote by year-end to provide clarification for banks interested in serving marijuana businesses.

The legislation is supported by the American Bankers Association.

Robert T. Smith heads the Finance and Commercial Transactions Practice Group and serves on the firm’s Management Committee. In the banking area, Robert advises clients on merger and acquisition transactions, lending, regulatory compliance and capital raising activities. He assists clients in private equity and corporate finance matters, the offering of debt and equity securities, and counseling directors and executive officers regarding fiduciary duties and corporate governance issues. Robert also regularly represents professionals and professional firms in the formation, expansion, merger, and division of professional practices.