The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act seven times, while the Senate has yet to take up the bill, which would allow federally regulated financial institutions to work with state-legal cannabis businesses.
Now, the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA), along with 44 affiliated state associations, are calling for Senate action on the legislation.
The associations submitted a letter to Senate leaders Nov. 28 to urge them to calendar the legislation for a floor vote before the year is out.
“On behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the undersigned state banking associations, and the thousands of community banks we represent, we write to ask you to schedule floor consideration of the SAFE Banking Act before year-end 2022 as a stand-alone bill or an amendment to another bill,” association members wrote in the letter. “This legislation enjoys strong, bipartisan support, would resolve a conflict between state and federal law, and addresses a critical public safety concern. We urge its enactment without further delay.”
Sponsored in the House by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., the SAFE Banking Act has amassed 180 cosponsors in that chamber, where it most recently passed in July as an amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., in the Senate, where it has gained 42 cosponsors.
The SAFE Banking Act would protect financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis-related businesses, as well as the ancillary businesses that serve the industry, from federal sanctions.
“The SAFE Banking Act is essential for the ongoing ability of community banks to effectively serve their communities,” the ICBA and its affiliated associations wrote in the letter. “The Act would also alleviate the significant threat to public safety posed by cash intensive [cannabis-related businesses] (CRBs) effectively being shut out of the banking industry.”
An ICBA poll released in September revealed that 65% of voters support cannabis banking reform.