STATEMENT: SAFE Banking Act Is a Victory for Banks and Industry Players, Not for Communities of Color on the Frontline of the Drug War, says CAP

Washington, D.C. — Today, the House voted in favor of H.R. 1595, the SAFE Banking Act. While this legislation is an incremental step toward progressive marijuana policy, it fails to help communities that have historically and disproportionately felt the brunt of the United States’ punitive drug laws.

As a member of the Marijuana Justice Coalition, the Center for American Progress has worked to advance comprehensive marijuana policy that addresses criminal justice reform, racial justice, and equity and has called on Congress to lead with these reforms when addressing marijuana legislation. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) have led toward this goal by introducing the most far-reaching marijuana bill in Congress, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. In addition to the Marijuana Justice Coalition’s support, more than 100 national organizations joined a letter in support of the MORE Act, calling on a swift markup of the bill and a floor vote. Congress can still honor this request and move forward with the MORE Act. 

In response to today’s vote, Maritza Perez, senior policy analyst for Criminal Justice Reform at CAP, said the following: 

Today’s vote may be a release valve for financial institutions, but it does nothing to relieve the decades of harm caused to communities of color affected by the drug war. Following today’s vote, we call on Congress to collectively turn its efforts to equitable marijuana legislation that should include removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and making way for the expungement and resentencing of marijuana convictions. Congress must also consider using marijuana tax revenue to bring services to communities most affected by the drug war, as well as grant programs supporting underrepresented business owners in the cannabis industry as modeled in the MORE Act. Congress has the opportunity to pass comprehensive marijuana legislation that leads with social justice and equity with the MORE Act. We urge Chairman Nadler and House leadership to promptly mark up the MORE Act and bring it to the floor for a vote.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at cmontecinos@americanprogress.org or 202-481-8145.