Senate Banking Committee Holds Cannabis Banking Hearing

May 15, 2023Congressional Legislation, News

Last week, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled “Examining Cannabis Banking Challenges of Small Businesses and Workers” to discuss cannabis banking issues, as well as bipartisan legislation aimed at resolving the industry’s particular financial obstacles. A main focal point of the hearing was the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

“The cannabis landscape looks far different than it did a few short years ago,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Banking Committee Chairman, during his opening remarks. “States and localities have established licensing and social equity programs to ensure that small businesses and communities impacted by the War on Drugs are part of the growing legal cannabis industry.”

Cat Packer, vice chair of CRCC and director of drug markets and legal regulation at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), said that the SAFE Banking Act should mandate updated guidance from regulators so that banks can have clear guidelines when serving the industry, and so that individuals with past marijuana convictions do not trigger “red flags” for financial accounts.

Brown noted that senators plan to “move quickly” with the SAFE Banking Act. Both Democratic and Republican senators have pushed for immediate action on the legislation that would protect financial institutions that work with state-legal cannabis businesses from being punished by federal regulators, since marijuana is federally illegal.

“People in the cannabis industry should be able to have the same types of personal, commercial, and mortgage loans that any other customer can have, with the same protections and without additional costs or fees,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Senate Banking Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-S.C.) emphasized the importance of debating legislation under “regular order” in the Senate. He also urged for all current legal industries to have access to financial services.

“A banking relationship is crucial to providing safety and stability for a company—both employees and the customers it serves,” Scott said.

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