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Reader: Put It on My Card With a $5 Tip, Good Man!

On September 25, the United States House of Representatives approved a bill that would allow banks and financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses in states where it is legal without risking federal prosecution, marking a landmark step toward marijuana reform.

Introduced by Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter, the SAFE Banking Act was the first marijuana-centered bill to reach a congressional floor for a vote, as well as the first to pass. While the bill faces hurdles in the Senate, the cannabis community saw SAFE's passage as a reason to celebrate.

Says Vicki:

  A huge step in the right direction!!!!!

Adds Duane: 

Excellent. It's becoming mainstream, and it's about damn time.

Comments Kristin: 

Smoked my first joint in ’77-78. I never would have imagined we’d here right now.

Says Jeff:

 It does still mystify me that this hadn't been handled by Congress. Legalize it, tax it and profit. If states don't want to sell it, they can choose not to.  

Replies Mark:

 Hopefully it passes so I don't have to walk into my dispensary with a thousand in cash.

Notes Sarah:

This will be so much safer for the dispensaries, and will further legitimize these businesses in the eyes of the country at large.

Concludes David:

 Put it on my card with a $5 tip, good man.

"The SAFE Banking Act will help thousands of employees, businesses and communities in Colorado and across this country who have been put at risk because they have been forced to deal in piles of cash," Perlmutter tells  Westword. "After Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, I started to hear from local businesses who were being forced to operate in all cash."

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Now, almost seven years later, Perlmutter's efforts have paid off with the passage of the SAFE banking Act. But will the bill make it through the Senate?

Republican Cory Gardner is sponsoring the measure there, and Perlmutter has hope that the new focus on hemp will give the proposal a boost. "Despite the Farm Bill legalizing hemp, many hemp businesses continue to struggle gaining access to financial services — an issue we know Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell is working to address," Perlmutter says. "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."

Do you think the Senate will pass SAFE? Post a comment or share your thoughts at editorial@westword.com.

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