The House previously approved the SAFE Banking Act seven times as a stand-alone bill
Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have reintroduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act with bipartisan support. The legislation, which was introduced by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the upper chamber and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and David Joyce (R-OH) in the House, creates a safe harbor for financial institutions to provide services to licensed, state-legal cannabis businesses. The latest version of the Act also provides explicit protections for Minority Depository Institutions and Community Development Financial Institutions that want to support cannabis businesses, and makes it easier for people working in the cannabis industry to obtain mortgage loans.
Under current federal policy, financial institutions are discouraged from providing services to the regulated cannabis industry. According to data provided by the US Treasury Department last year, only about 11 percent of all US banks and about four percent of all US credit unions are “actively providing banking services to marijuana-related businesses.” Survey data compiled in February 2022 by Whitney Economics reported that over 70 percent of participating cannabis businesses say that the “lack of access to banking or investment capital” is their top challenge. Lack of access to banking services forces many businesses to operate predominantly in cash, which is increasingly making them targets for crime as well as impeding the efforts of law enforcement and regulators to effectively monitor financial transactions.
“If cannabis businesses are to have any hope of operating safely, transparently, and in a manner that is competitive with the existing underground market, Congress must pass SAFE Banking now,” said NORML Political Director Morgan Fox. “It is irresponsible to shut this heavily regulated industry out of the US financial system. Every day that Congress fails to act further endangers small businesses and consumers, puts regulators and law enforcement at a disadvantage, and facilitates the activities of unlicensed operators and criminal organizations.”
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