The U.S. House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act today 321–103, in an historic vote on federal cannabis policy.
Authored by U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-07) and Denny Heck (D-WA-10) and cosponsored by Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) and Warren Davidson (R-OH-08), the bill allows marijuana-related businesses in states with some form of legalized marijuana and strict regulatory structures to access the banking system. Today, 47 states, four U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia – representing 97.7 % of the U.S. population – have legalized some form of recreational or medical marijuana, including CBD oil. Senator Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) has led the charge in the Senate with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to ensure legal cannabis businesses can access banking services.
The Mountain West Credit Union Association, Leagues across the nation and CUNA have supported the SAFE Banking Act since it was first introduced in the House in March. Credit unions were the first financial trade organization to testify before Congress on the matter. In hearings in the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee, Chief Risk Officer Rachel Pross of Maps Credit Union in Salem, Oregon emphasized that with no access to the financial system, cannabis businesses are forced to deal in cash only, creating a public safety hazard in the communities served by these businesses.
“As financial services providers serving over 1 million members in Colorado, credit unions play a central role in our communities by fulfilling banking needs that may not be otherwise available,” said Scott Earl, President of the Mountain West Credit Union Association. “The SAFE Banking Act is an important step toward providing the certainty we need as financial services providers to serve the growing recreational cannabis industry and protect our members, as well as the taxpayers of Colorado.”
The SAFE Banking Act will help ensure access for state-sanctioned businesses in the mainstream financial system. Credit unions that choose to provide cannabis banking use rigorous screening and compliance protocols to appropriately monitor and maintain high-risk accounts. In a historic 321-103 vote, the bill will help protect small businesses who provide ancillary services to cannabis businesses.
Credit unions have been on the front line advocating for legal clarity between state and federal laws to protect financial institutions that deal with legal businesses, both directly and indirectly. CUNA has consistently called on Congress to pass this bill and bring legal businesses out of the underground economy.
MWCUA, CUNA, and other League partners, and the credit union industry are pleased to see its advocacy message was recognized by policymakers and will continue to engage Congress in getting this bill signed into law.