Members of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection heard testimony Wednesday from representatives of the financial sector, the cannabis industry, law enforcement and the treasurer of California in support of legislation that would make it easier for banks to work with legal cannabis businesses without fear of federal prosecution.
The committee discussed a draft of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives this month by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA). The bill would address the public safety and transparency issues that are created by current banking restrictions, and the risks which discourage most financial institutions from being able to have cannabis businesses as clients.
Cannabis Industry Reacts
“This hearing was extremely positive and bodes well for the SAFE Banking Act in the current legislative session,” said Morgan Fox, spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Testimony from supporters was wide-ranging and powerful, and the only arguments heard against sensible banking reform consisted of disproved 'gateway' nonsense and jurisdictional arguments, neither of which had anything to do with banking.
Fox said making it safer for financial institutions to work with cannabis businesses removes large amounts of cash from the public "where it can attract crime, makes business transactions more transparent, aids law enforcement and regulatory oversight, and increases access to capital for small business owners and disenfranchised communities.”
Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Market Report, told Benzinga the hearing "shows that newly elected politicians are willing to make some progress with regards to legislation. The hearing mostly consisted of pro-legalization witnesses so that does bode well for some action this year."
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