The American Bankers Association and bankers associations from all 50 states are urging Senate leadership to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the House-Senate conference version of the America COMPETES Act.
In a letter sent to lawmakers April 28, the bankers associations said, “The SAFE Banking Act is an urgently needed, and widely supported, bipartisan legislative solution to allow banks to handle the proceeds from state-licensed cannabis business and the accountants, skilled trades, landlords, law firms, and other service providers they rely on for legal operations.”
Currently, federal law prohibits banks from providing services to state-legal cannabis businesses, as well as ancillary businesses that serve the industry.
In their letter, the bankers associations argue that without access to financial institutions, the cannabis industry “is operating primarily in cash, which causes significant public safety concerns and undermines the ability of cannabis regulators, tax collectors, law enforcement and national security organizations to monitor the industry effectively.”
The SAFE Banking Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., passed the U.S. House five times between 2019 and 2021, including twice as a standalone bill and as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
The legislation, which has stalled each time it has cleared the House before making any headway in the Senate, gained House approval for the sixth time in February, when lawmakers passed it as part of the America COMPETES Act.
“With state-licensed cannabis businesses currently operating in 37 states and more states weighing legalization, we urge you to include the SAFE Banking Act in the compromise version of the COMPETES Act to address these critical issues as quickly as possible,” bankers associations members wrote in their letter, which is addressed to Sens. Chuck Schumer, Sherrod Brown, Mitch McConnell and Pat Toomey.
“The SAFE Banking Act is the best opportunity to enact some type of federal cannabis reform this year and will serve as the first of many steps to help ensure cannabis businesses are treated the same as any other legal, legitimate business,” Perlmutter said in a public statement in February, upon the House passing SAFE Banking as part of the America COMPETES Act.