U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and three other representatives who co-sponsored the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act submitted a letter to Senate committee chairman Mike Crapo Jan. 21 to address his concerns about the legislation and to urge him to approve the bill.
In comments released Dec. 18, Crapo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, recommended that lawmakers add public health and safety requirements to the bill, including a potential 2% THC limit on cannabis products and a requirement for companies to disclose product potency as a prerequisite to obtaining financial services from banks, according to The Denver Post.
Crapo also suggested including regulations in the legislation that would prevent “bad actors” from laundering money through banks, the news outlet reported.
The lead sponsors of the SAFE Banking Act, Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Denny Heck (D-WA) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), have remained hesitant to expand the SAFE Banking Act, writing in their letter that, “The primary objective of our bill is to address public safety concerns resulting from marijuana-related transactions being forced outside the regulated banking system.”
The legislators expressed that they must be cautious about “adding limitations to the legislation’s safe harbor that impose unworkable burdens on financial institutions, or would jeopardize the larger, bipartisan effort to address public safety concerns associated with cash-only transactions,” and reiterated, “Our bill is about safety. It does not change the legal status of marijuana and is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and aligning federal banking laws with the decisions states are already making regarding cannabis.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), a co-sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act in the Senate, has had several discussions with Crapo regarding the legislation, The Denver Post reported.
“It’s no secret that I, too, was opposed to marijuana legalization in Colorado,” Gardner said in a public statement. “But the people of Colorado chose to try a new approach to legal cannabis, and the sky is not falling. Seven years later, 95% of the United States’ population lives in a state with some form of legal cannabis. Every day that Congress continues to ignore reality, unintended negative consequences pile up for legitimate businesses—both in the cannabis industry and outside it.”
The House passed the SAFE Banking Act in September in a historic vote of 321-103. The bill would ultimately provide a safe harbor for financial institutions that work with cannabis clients, effectively opening the door to formal banking relationships in the industry.