Oregon delegation praises House passage of cannabis banking

Oregon delegation praises House passage of cannabis banking

Senate has a similar bill sponsored by Jeff Merkley; legislation would allow banks to do business with the cannabis industry. Oregon is among 11 states with full legalization and 33 states with approved medical use.


By:  Peter Wong

Reactions from the Oregon congressional delegation on House passage of HR 1595, the SAFE Banking Act, which allows banks to do business with the cannabis industry.

SAFE stands for Secure and Fair Enforcement.

The four Democratic representatives from Oregon were among the bill's sponsors.

Sen. Jeff Merkley has a version pending in the Senate Banking Committee, whose Republican chairman (Mike Crapo of Idaho) has said he intends to move forward with legislation. Merkley testified at a committee hearing July 23.

The House vote on Wednesday, Sept. 25, was 321-103. All five Oregon representatives voted for the bill.

Oregon is one of 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, that has fully legalized cannabis. Oregon is one of 33 states, plus D.C., that has legalized cannabis for medical use.

Cannabis is still illegal under federal law; it is classified by rule as a drug with no currently accepted medical use.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who is founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus:

"Today's vote is historic. The House of Representatives took the most significant step thus far in addressing our outdated and out-of-touch federal cannabis laws. It never made any sense to deny state legal cannabis businesses access to banking services. It not only seriously disadvantaged these businesses, but it also was an open invitation to theft, tax evasion, and money laundering. Congressmen Perlmutter and Heck have fought tirelessly to bring their bill to the floor, and I applaud Chairwoman Waters and House leadership for their support. States have outpaced the federal government on this issue, and state-legal cannabis industries and their employees have suffered. There is much more to be done to end this senseless prohibition. This is just the beginning."

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici:

"I've heard from individuals and businesses in Oregon who have serious concerns about their safety and the safety of their businesses and communities because they need to conduct their business in cash. These businesses are legal and shouldn't be forced to operate under dangerous conditions.

"The SAFE Banking Act will finally put cannabis businesses on equal ground with other employers and provide greater safety to the people who work with them. I have long championed the legalization of hemp businesses and am pleased that this legislation also includes protections for them."

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley:

"Forcing businesses to operate in cash is an invitation to crime, money laundering, and robbery. Whether you're for or against legal cannabis, we can all agree that we want our communities to be safe from fraud and crime.

"Today, we saw overwhelming support in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the SAFE Banking Act and get this common-sense fix into law. Now it's time for the Senate to act. While we continue to work to address broader issues related to the harmful legacy of cannabis prohibition across the country, I am hopeful that we can get the SAFE Banking Act moving quickly through committee, to the Senate floor, and ultimately, to the president's desk."