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House Members Pass Historic Legislation Legitimizing Retail Cannabis Sales

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Washington, DC: Members of the House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 today, representing 79% of the vote, in favor of HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, which amends federal law so that explicitly banks and other financial institutions may work directly with state-legal [cannabis] businesses.

The YES votes represented 99% of the Democratic majority caucus and 47% of the Republican minority caucus.

Commenting on today’s historic vote, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “For the first time ever, a supermajority of the House voted affirmatively to recognize that the legalization and regulation of [cannabis] is a superior public policy to prohibition and criminalization.”

He added, “Now we look to the Senate, where we are cautiously optimistic. Given the strong bipartisanship of the House vote, coupled with Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo’s recent pledge to hold a markup on this issue, we believe that Congress’ appetite to resolve this important issue has never been greater.”

Why NORML Supports Passage of HR 1595: The Safe Banking Act

Federal law currently defines all [cannabis]-related endeavors as criminal enterprises, including those commercial activities that are licensed and legally regulated under state laws. Therefore, almost no state-licensed cannabis businesses can legally obtain a bank account, process credit cards or provide loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

In this environment, the rapidly growing multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry must operate largely on a cash-only basis, which makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. This ongoing federal prohibition also places the safety and welfare of these businesses’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities. For these reasons, NORML has long advocated that federal lawmakers vote “yes” on The SAFE Banking Act.

What’s Next?

Commenting on next steps, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “Today’s vote is a significant first step, but it must not be the last. Much more action will still need to be taken by lawmakers. In the Senate, we demand that lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee hold true to their commitment to move expeditiously in support of similar federal reforms. And in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act — which is sponsored by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding [cannabis].”

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NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of [cannabis] by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high-quality [cannabis] that is safe, convenient, and affordable.

Find out more at www.norml.org and read our factsheets on the most common misconceptions and myths regarding reform efforts around the country at www.norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets

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