A bipartisan coalition of more than 100 co-sponsors has reintroduced legislation in Congress, The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act), HR 1595, to allow state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to engage freely in relationships with banks and other financial institutions.
If enacted, banks would no longer face the threat of federal sanction for working with marijuana-related businesses and entrepreneurs.
Currently, hundreds of licensed and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Congress must move to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.
The effort is championed by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA).
“The majority of American voters have spoken and it’s happening whether we act or not,” said Perlmutter at the time of introduction. “The SAFE Banking Act is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and making our communities safer. Only Congress can provide the certainty financial institutions need to start banking legitimate marijuana businesses – just like any other legal business – and reduce risks for employees, businesses and communities across the country.”
“Modern banking services and existing federal laws on financial disclosures allow law enforcement to keep records and track potential criminal activity,” said Heck at the time of introduction. “We know based on the Treasury guidance that the federal government prioritizes keeping this product out of the hands of children and organized crime. The most effective way to do that is to not only allow, but encourage these businesses to use traditional banking methods to track their sales, deposits, expenses, tax payments, and other business transactions. If Congress fails to act, we are discouraging responsible, regulated markets and allowing a serious public safety threat to go unaddressed.”
Perlmutter and Heck have introduced similar bills every Congress since 2013. A draft version of the SAFE Banking Act was discussed during a hearing about cannabis banking on February 13, 2019.
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Author: Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director