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House Takes Historic Step to Validate Marijuana Industry Under Federal Law

Congress votes to give cannabis businesses access to the banking industry

In a landmark first step toward normalization of the cannabis industry, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to pass the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would provide state-legal marijuana businesses with full access to banks and other financial services, as well as allow consumers to use credit- and debit cards when buying legal weed.

The 321-103 vote followed spirited debate on the House floor. “The states aren’t waiting for us,” said Rep. Earl Blumenaur (D-OR). “This is an $11 billion industry and growing. And it’s growing because the people and the states are demanding it. We need to step up.”

“This bill is about public safety and protecting states rights,” said Ed Perlmutter (R-CO), the lead sponsor of the bill. “This one gets the cash off the streets.”

Under current federal law, banks that service the cannabis industry run the risk of being prosecuted under statutes crafted in line with the War on Drugs. “If you do business with the cannabis industry, you can be liable for breaking money laundering laws,” says Michael Correia, director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Punishment can be draconian, including stripping a bank of its FDIC deposit insurance. [Read More @ Rolling Stone]

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