How the Historic Passage of the SAFE Banking Act Could Benefit Patients

“The potential benefits that patients stand to gain from passage of the SAFE Banking Act are significant. Americans for Safe Access is proud to have supported this historic bill since its introduction and reiterates its call for swift passage in the Senate. Broader, more robust cannabis reform is still urgently needed, but the Act’s passage through the House is an encouraging sign that we are on the right path.”-Sean Khalepari, ASA Regulatory Affairs Coordinator

This week cannabis legislation made history. The first ever federal cannabis reform legislation was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 321-103. This bill will still need to pass the Senate and be signed into law, but it serves as a marker of the progress cannabis legislation has made.

An image of the House of Representatives. Shown from a rear balcony the room is full of people who are applauding.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 takes steps to resolve part of the federal/state conflict in cannabis laws by giving cannabis businesses access to the same kind of banking services as any other company. It this law passes, it will make it much easier for cannabis businesses to operate anywhere in the United States.

The SAFE Act could result in several positive changes for medical cannabis patients. For example, we know that the cost of medicine is a significant barrier for many patients. If the SAFE Act is enacted, it would reduce the cost of operating a medical cannabis business, which almost certainly would result in lower prices for patients and increased access for those in need.

Additionally, banking would allow these businesses to begin accepting credit or debit cards, processing online orders, and providing cashless delivery services, all of which are important for those with mobility issues or whose chronic condition might make it a challenge to make separate trips to an ATM and a dispensary every time they need to purchase medicine.

Lastly, offering protection to banks working with cannabis businesses may move medical cannabis one step closer to being covered by insurance companies.

We supported this bill’s passage through the house with written testimony and a letter to the House of Representatives. We will continue to support the act’s passage by urging Senate leadership to mark up and pass the companion bill so that we can help bring medical cannabis businesses more into the mainstream and reduce patients’ barriers to access.