Senators urge Congressional leaders to pass SAFE Banking Act for legal cannabis businesses


A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is urging their Congressional leaders to include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the final version of legislation currently being negotiated between the House and Senate.

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The SAFE Banking Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to get access to banking services so that legal cannabis businesses do not have to operate in all-cash. This is the current reality for thousands of small businesses across the country, which has led to ongoing threats of robbery and assault for business owners and employees.

The SAFE Banking Act was included in the House-passed America COMPETES Act. However, the Senate passed the America COMPETES Act without the SAFE Banking Act included in it. Now, the two sides are negotiating a compromise bill – which 22 senators, including Merkley, as urging them to do with SAFE Banking as part of the final bill.

“Currently, thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, and eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow adult recreational use. As a result, the cannabis industry has become a powerful job creator and a significant generator of tax revenue. However, financial institutions are often reluctant to transact with cannabis-related businesses, even in states that have some form of legalized cannabis, due to legal and regulatory risks arising from inconsistent federal and state laws,” the 22 senators wrote to U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the leaders of the Senate, and U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the leaders of the House.

Along with Merkley, the letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Steven Daines (R-MT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

“Allowing cannabis businesses operating legally and in compliance with state law to access financial services without federal reprisal would address public safety and compliance challenges, helping communities reduce cash-motivated crimes,” they added. “Enacting the SAFE Banking Act via the jobs and competitiveness legislation before us would support a rapidly growing industry that creates jobs, fosters innovation, supports small businesses, and raises revenue in states that have chosen to legalize cannabis while reducing safety risks to industry employees and the public alike.”

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