House lawmakers passed a historic cannabis banking bill Wednesday that also provides a safe harbor for financial institutions serving hemp and hemp-derived CBD businesses.
Proponents believed that such provisions were necessary despite the fact that hemp became legal nationwide with the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The hemp amendments in the SAFE Banking Act, which passed 321-103 and now heads to the Senate, instruct federal banking regulators to issue guidance to financial institutions confirming the legality of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products within 90 days of the enactment of the law.
The guidance would include recommended best practices for financial institutions to follow when providing services to hemp-related businesses.
Hemp farmers and businesses including processors and retailers have reported difficulties accessing traditional banking products and services.
Businesses involved in the sale of hemp-derived CBD products have been particularly affected because of legal confusion over their status, according to the SAFE Banking Act amendments.
It’s unclear whether the Republican-controlled Senate will support the overall bill. But the House bill had strong bipartisan support, with 91 Republicans in favor Wednesday.
Ashley Verville, communications director for U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat who has championed the SAFE Banking Act for years, wrote in an email to Hemp Industry Daily that hemp banking is an “issue we know (Senate) Majority Leader (Mitch) McConnell is working to address.”
“By clarifying protections for the hemp industry in the SAFE Banking Act, we hope to help these businesses and look forward to working with the Senate as they address this issue by taking up the SAFE Banking Act or as they work to develop and pass similar legislation,” Verville wrote.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Michael Crapo, an Idaho Republican, recently said that he wants his committee to vote on cannabis banking reform before year-end, but he didn’t specifically mention hemp.
Jeff Smith can be reached at [email protected]