Getting the thumbs up from the Senate is going to be a lot harder
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives late Wednesday voted to pass a bill protecting banks that work with the marijuana industry, but some analysts are warning that the measure isn’t likely to become law in 2019 as it faces a tough road in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The chances of enactment this year for the bill — known as the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act — have risen to 1 in 3, up from 1 in 5, reckons Ian Katz, an analyst at Capital Alpha Partners. Those still aren’t great odds, however. “We remain skeptical for now,” Katz said in a note before the House vote, though he added that the chances could get better “if we see meaningful signals from the Senate in the next few weeks.”
The bill aims to give clarification to banks and credit unions that serve cannabis companies with, for instance, business accounts for bill paying. Currently, financial institutions face legal problems because marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, even as more states legalize it. Lobbyists have emphasized that many cannabis businesses end up “unbanked” and operating largely in cash, and that makes them targets for robberies and other crimes.
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