U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., advocated for the passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act during a Senate banking hearing this week as the legislation continues to stall in the upper chamber.
Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, urged passage of the cannabis banking reform legislation during a Sept. 6 hearing titled “Current Issues in Insurance,” according to a press release from his office.
Witnesses from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Federal Insurance Office at the U.S. Treasury Department also testified at the hearing, according to the press release.
“I’m concerned that businesses that have nothing to do with cannabis could face serious consequences if this bill isn’t enacted,” Mendendez said during the hearing, while questioning Kathleen Birrane from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “Imagine a scenario where a New Jersey lightbulb manufacturer sells a product to a state-legalized cannabis business and there’s a fire related to the lightbulb, causing the business to suffer losses. The SAFE Banking Act and CLAIM Act would resolve the issue I described, as well as many others. The House has passed this bipartisan measure seven times, and it’s long past time for the Senate to do the same.”
The Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM) Act, authored by Menendez, would provide a safe harbor for insurers to provide their services to state-legal cannabis retailers and was included as a provision in the SAFE Banking Act, which would prohibit federal regulators from taking punitive measures against financial institutions that do business with state-legal cannabis operators.
The SAFE Banking Act passed the U.S. House for the seventh time in July as an amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
The legislation has yet to be taken up by the Senate.