The U.S. House of Representatives Rules Committee declined to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (the "NDAA") to include the Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2021 (the "SAFE Banking Act"). The House Rules Committee's action follows similar action from the Senate.

The SAFE Banking Act, introduced by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), would enable cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers to access financial services. The purpose of the bill is to reduce the amount of cash held in legitimate cannabis businesses, thereby improving the safety of the businesses, their employees and the communities that they are situated in.

In a statement on the bill's removal from the NDAA, Mr. Perlmutter expressed frustration at the Senate's inaction, reporting that the bill "has been sitting in the Senate for three years and with every passing day their unwillingness to deal with the issue endangers and harms businesses, their employees, and communities across the country."

Commentary Jodi Avergun

This is a disappointing, but not unexpected, development. Trying to add SAFE Banking to the Defense Authorization Act was a bold move by legalization proponents to try to get a relatively noncontroversial and widely supported piece of legislation passed. SAFE Banking, if enacted, would significantly widen the financial market opportunities for state legal cannabis businesses. However, SAFE Banking does not address the reparation and social justice goals of Senate leadership, and, as such, its removal from the Defense Authorization Act was preordained.

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