Crapo Announces Opposition to Cannabis Banking Bill

Dec 23, 2019Congressional Legislation, News

After a long wait and intense speculation from the banking, cannabis, and other industries, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo last week announced his opposition to the House-passed SAFE Act, which would allow banks to serve cannabis businesses. With cannabis now legal in a majority of states across the country, banks have sought clarity on whether they can serve these businesses without violating federal laws, even though they have been legalized in the states where they operate.

Banking groups, including the American Bankers Association (ABA) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) have been supportive of the legislation.

“By helping to provide clarity for the financial sector in those states where cannabis is legal, this bill will help banks meet the needs of their communities while reducing cash-motivated crimes, increasing the efficiency of tax collections, and improving the cannabis industry’s financial accountability,” said ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols, after the SAFE Act passed the House of Representatives in September by a bipartisan vote of 321 to 103. “It will also ensure that businesses with indirect ties to the cannabis industry—including vendors, utility companies, and law firms—won’t be needlessly forced out of the financial system.”

In a press release issued on December 18, Crapo said he “remain[s] firmly opposed to efforts to legalize marijuana on the federal level” and “[does] not support the SAFE Banking Act that passed in the House of Representatives.”

“Significant concerns remain that the SAFE Banking Act does not address the high level potency of marijuana, marketing tactics to children, lack of research on marijuana’s effects, and the need to prevent bad actors and cartels from using the banks to disguise ill-gotten cash to launder money into the financial system,” he continued. “I welcome input from all interested parties on how to thoughtfully address these concerns.”

The Senate version of the SAFE Act (S. 1200) was introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in April.

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