A bipartisan group of 24 Senators stood up for public safety and for greater economic opportunities for legal cannabis businesses by sending a letter to leadership in both chambers of Congress asking them to include cannabis banking reform language in broad legislation currently being debated in conference committee.
In February, the House of Representatives approved a massive economic package called the America COMPETES Act, which contained an amendment from Rep. Ed Perlmutter to include the SAFE Banking Act in the legislation. The SAFE Banking Act language allows banks and other financial institutions to work with state-licensed cannabis-related businesses – something they are currently discouraged from doing. This is the sixth time that the House has approved this popular reform. The Senate, however, approved companion legislation that does not contain cannabis banking reform.
It is now up to a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two versions in the coming weeks.
The letter, which was led by Senators Jackie Rosen (D-NV) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), concludes: “Given the demonstrated broad support for this measure, we ask you to ensure that the text of the SAFE Banking Act remain in the forthcoming final conferenced version of the jobs and competitiveness bill when it comes to the House and Senate for final votes. This will help cannabis-related businesses, support innovation, create jobs, and strengthen public safety in our communities. We look forward to working with you on this important issue.”
NORML Political Director Morgan Fox said: “Getting bipartisan support for anything seems next to impossible these days, and Senators Rosen and Merkley should be commended for getting nearly a quarter of the upper chamber to publicly rally behind including SAFE Banking in this bill. This narrowly tailored language would help address outdated policy that is limiting opportunities for small businesses and costing lives. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum, as well as a majority of voters nationwide, have been calling for this legislation for years only to meet with inaction in the Senate. Given the pace of state-level legalization in recent years, Senators on this conference committee would do well to remember that even if their states might not be directly impacted now, this could very well benefit their constituents in the near future.”
The letter is co-signed by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Chris Coons (D-DE).
According to the most recent financial information provided by the US Treasury Department, only about ten percent of all banks and only about four percent of all credit unions provide services to licensed cannabis-related businesses.
Nationwide polling, provided by Morning Consult in March, finds that 65 percent of respondents “support allowing cannabis businesses to access banking services (e.g., checking accounts, business loans) in states where cannabis is legal.” Moreover, 68 percent of Americans say that Congress should pass legislation so that marijuana businesses can “access banking services and products in states” where it is legal.
Please contact your Senators and tell them you support including SAFE Banking in the final version of America COMPETES (particularly if you live in New York or Kentucky, where you are represented by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell respectively). If one of your Senators is on the list above, make sure to thank them for co-signing the letter and lending their voice to this effort.