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Cannabis banking bill heads to the Senate

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Rep. Ed Perlmutter, (D) Colorado joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss the passage of the SAFE Banking Act by the House and the future of the cannabis industry.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Of course, there, he was just mentioning the Safe Banking Act. So that's one that we've been talking about here in regards to the way that laws and reforms will impact these businesses, largely cash businesses here without easy access to banking when it comes to cannabis companies due to the fact that it still remains illegal on a federal level. But the Safe Banking Act would look to open that up. It's been passed in the House before. And yesterday, it was passed once again, this time by a vote of 321 to 101 for the fourth time we've seen that bill get passed.

And for more on that, I want to bring on the congressman behind the Safe Banking Act. Colorado representative Ed Perlmutter joins us once again. Congressman, good to be chatting with you. It seems like we've done this before because maybe we have, the Safe Banking Act getting passed, enthusiasm building in the space. But this time is different because before, the Senate was Republican-controlled. Now, of course, it's Democratic-controlled. So talk to me about what your expectations are in the Senate now that we've kind of moved past the hurdle again.

ED PERLMUTTER: Well, so we passed it, as you said, last night with a very strong majority. All the Democrats voted in favor and 106 Republicans. So, a good bipartisan vote, sent it on to the Senate, lots of support from the banking industry, real estate, obviously, the cannabis industry, the National Armored Car Association, governors, the treasurers, some attorneys general. So, a lot of strong support.

And David Klein, I thought, summarized it very nicely in your prior segment. There is a lot of momentum here. And I really am confident-- I was confident in the last cycle that there would be movement in the Senate. COVID, obviously, disrupted everything. And one of those things was moving forward on cannabis legislation in the Senate. But I expect Sherrod Brown in the Banking Committee, Chuck Schumer. I expect Pat Toomey. I think there will be a real effort on the Senate's part to move Safe Banking and probably some additional components involving taxes, research, a variety of things, social justice with respect to cannabis.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, I mean, no doubt there's a difference between McConnell leading the Senate and Chuck Schumer leading the Senate right now. And when you talk about his kind of progression, it was interesting to see him say whether or not President Biden gets on board, they're going to be moving forward with some more progressive plans here. Of course, we've been talking about legalization at a federal level going maybe a step before or beyond what the Safe Banking Act would do.

But some progressives out there looked at it as maybe kind of a potential problem there because they think that if you get the Safe Banking Act, you might kind of dampen enthusiasm to go for more progressive things like reforms around policing, as well as expungements of records. So talk to me about maybe why that might be the wrong way to frame the discussion now.

ED PERLMUTTER: Yeah, I don't think that's really the discussion anymore. Maybe in the last cycle, it was. I think that folks see the Safe Banking Act, given its strong bipartisan support, as really the icebreaker to move a number of the other reforms along. And they may all be bundled together in the Senate as part of their effort. It'll come back to the House and will do some things with it all.

A big piece of legislation is called the MORE Act that we passed out of the House last cycle. It is being introduced and moved forward. And the Judiciary Committee has lots of social reforms attached to it. So I think a lot of different reforms are going to pass. And I think the progressive community recognizes that. So you've got to start someplace.

And the best place to start is dealing with getting cash off the streets. I mean, in Oregon, recently, there have been 100 robberies, a murder recently. Colorado, we just had somebody shot. And this cash really is ultimately a public safety issue. And we need to deal with it. And that's where this banking bill moves forward.


ED PERLMUTTER: We have credit unions and everybody else supporting it.

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, given that kind of statistic there, to kind of wrap up, it does sound like-- and we've already proven it out-- that there is Republican support here. So given all that, I mean, it sounds like this might be an easier one to push through. So timeline wise-- I always love the timeline questions-- but expectations this time around-- fourth time's the charm on the Safe Banking Act. So talk to me about maybe the expectation in terms of how quickly this can get done.

ED PERLMUTTER: You know, I was overly optimistic last time. And so, I'm not going to give you any time [INAUDIBLE]. It's really up to the Senate now. They can add, subtract, multiply, divide Safe Banking. So I expect that it-- we will receive something back from the Senate to the House. It won't be exactly the Safe Banking, but that's a good place to start. And [INAUDIBLE] research and they add a tax component, they add some social justice reforms, I think it will be well received in the House. We might lose a little support on the right or maybe a little support on the left, but ultimately, there is strong support on both sides of the aisle to do something with respect to cannabis.

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, listen, it's 4/20. I don't think anyone's going to attack you on this show for being too optimistic this time around. But for the fourth time, we've seen the Safe Banking Act pass. Congratulations on that, at least. Congressman Ed Perlmutter from Colorado, appreciate you chatting with us once again. Be well.