Bipartisan Group of 24 Senators Urge Congressional Leadership to Move SAFE Act

May 16, 2022Banks & Credit Unions, Congressional Legislation, News

Last week, a bipartisan group of two dozen Senators sent a letter to Congressional leadership asking for the SAFE Act—a cannabis banking reform bill—to be included in the final America COMPETES Act of 2022 currently being negotiated between the House and Senate. The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“The SAFE Banking Act, as included in the House-passed America COMPETES Act, would allow banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to offer banking services to legally-operating cannabis businesses without fear of punishment by federal regulators,” the letter says. “Currently, thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, and eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow adult recreational use. As a result, the cannabis industry has become a powerful job creator and a significant generator of tax revenue.”

“However, financial institutions are often reluctant to transact with cannabis-related businesses, even in states that have some form of legalized cannabis, due to legal and regulatory risks arising from inconsistent federal and state laws,” the letter continues. “Allowing cannabis businesses operating legally and in compliance with state law to access financial services without federal reprisal would address public safety and compliance challenges, helping communities reduce cash-motivated crimes.”

The House of Representatives has passed the SAFE Banking Act six times in a variety of formats. As a standalone measure, the SAFE Banking Act passed the House by a vote of 321-101. When the House passed the America COMPETES Act, the SAFE Banking Act was added as an amendment by a bipartisan vote of 262-168 and the final version passed the House by a vote of 222-210.

The letter was signed by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Angus King (I-Maine), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Christopher Coons (D-Del.).

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