WASHINGTON, D.C. – PRESS RELEASE – Rep. Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, has announced a markup next week for the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide a safe harbor for financial institutions to work with cannabis businesses that are operating in compliance with state laws. This is the first time that a bill addressing this issue has received a markup in a congressional committee. The markup is scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 26, and will be broadcast live on https://financialservices.house.gov/live/.
The bill was originally introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Warren Davidson (R-OH). It currently has 138 cosponsors in the House.
“The fact that the SAFE Banking Act, which has unprecedented support in the House, is getting the serious consideration of a markup is a huge step in the right direction for the safety and transparency of the legal cannabis industry,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “We urge every member of Congress to support this legislation and help ease the unfair burdens facing cannabis businesses, their employees, regulators, and law enforcement due to current federal banking restrictions.”
The SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis related businesses that are obeying state laws or halting their services, taking action on loans made to those businesses, or limiting a depository institution’s access to the Deposit Insurance Fund. The bill would also protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes, and requires the Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help credit unions and banks understand how to lawfully serve cannabis businesses.
NCIA has been the foremost proponent of this legislation in Congress, and was cited several times during a hearing on the issue in February in the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, at which the organization submitted written testimony along with the stories of more than 100 cannabis industry professionals about the burdens created by current banking regulations.