A bill that would make it easier for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses has passed the U.S. House.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, co-sponsored HR 1595, also known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019.

The bill would protect financial institutions that do business with cannabis companies in states where marijuana is legal from being penalized by the federal government.

In a Friday release, Young said states should have the right to make their own laws on marijuana.

"I am a passionate supporter of a state's rights approach to cannabis policy. For too long the federal government has stood in the way of states that have acted to set their own cannabis policies," he said.

Young said the bill also addresses public safety concerns since cannabis businesses that can't use traditional banks are often forced to deal in large sums of cash and can become targets for robberies and crime.

"I have met with many constituents, including owners of small businesses in Alaska’s legal cannabis industry as well as state leaders of financial institutions. These meetings have highlighted how important it is for these entrepreneurs to have access to financial services for their business operations," he said. "When cannabis businesses are not permitted to utilize traditional financial institutions, they are forced to operate cash-only businesses, leaving significant amounts of cash out in the open and making these businesses high-profile targets for robbery and other crime. The SAFE Banking Act is as much a public safety bill as it is a cannabis bill, and I am proud to have been an original cosponsor of this important initiative."

The bill passed the House 321-103 with strong bipartisan support. It now heads on to the Senate.

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