A Senate committee passed a measure to advance the SAFER Banking Act which will now go to a full vote in the chamber and potentially open doors in the cannabis industry.
The US Senate Banking Committee passed a measure on September 27, 2023, to advance the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act to the senate floor (1). The bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators, has raised expectations in the cannabis industry which is cash-dependent because they are unable to access regular banking services.
Due to cannabis’s federal illegal status, businesses in the industry are unable to utilize the services a typical “non-cannabis” business is able to use every day. Unfortunately, with several states legalizing cannabis, this does not change the financial aspect for cannabis businesses.
The SAFER Banking Act if passed in the Senate, will allow establishments to have access to normal banking services such as, getting approved for loans, access to deposit accounts, and various other banking services (1).
Stocks for the cannabis industry began to rise following the news. Cronos Group (CRON.TO), SNDL (SNDL.O), and Trulieve Cannabis (TRUL.CD) shares all rose between 1 – 3% (1) after the committee’s vote.
"We are hopeful that the revised language and clearer guidelines for financial institutions will continue to break through the many unproductive hurdles that have prolonged the passage of this bill for far too long," said cannabis firm Acreage Holdings (ACRGau.CD) (1).
The SAFE Banking Act, which was an earlier version of the legislation, was unable to pass a Senate vote even though it passed through the House of Representatives seven times.
"Realizing this first vote out of the Senate signals strong bipartisan support from both chambers of Congress," commented Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve (1).
In August 2023 (2), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) formally announced their recommendation to classify cannabis from its original stance as a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug. Although their recommendation is not for a full descheduling of the medicinal plant, it is still to be considered a progressive step in the right direction. That decision now falls into the hands of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who holds the final decision on rescheduling.
It's an exciting time to be in the cannabis industry where everyone will be watching to see how the SAFER Banking Act passes through the Senate.