American banks have expressed support for the SAFE Banking Act, which is designed to allow cannabis-related businesses access to banking services.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act has bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and was reintroduced last week after having stalled last year.
Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the ABA, said: “We welcome today’s reintroduction of the SAFE Banking Act in the Senate and House and want to express our thanks to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Merkley and Daines and Representatives Joyce and Blumenauer, as well as the many co-sponsors of this urgently needed legislation.
“This common sense, bipartisan bill, which has already cleared the House multiple times, would resolve the ongoing conflict between state and federal law so that banks can serve state-authorized cannabis and cannabis-related businesses.
“The SAFE Banking Act would also enhance public safety, tax collection and financial transparency, and national surveys show a strong majority of Americans support this bill. We urge Congress to consider this legislation without delay.”
Although 22 states have fully legalized cannabis, at a federal level it remains classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning banks and other financial services companies that serve cannabis companies can be sanctioned. This has forced state-authorized companies to operate solely using cash.
Democrat senator Jeff Merkley, from Oregon, said in a statement that the law, if passed, would “ensure that all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees, their businesses, and their communities safe”.
The SAFE Banking Act will prevent federal regulators from “prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging” banks from working with cannabis-related companies, and would stop them from acting against any loans made to owners or operators of such companies.