ABA & Major Financial Institutions Urge House To Support SAFE Banking In Defense Bill, Vote Expected Soon

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), a House sponsor of a bipartisan marijuana banking reform bill, recently filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

The move follows a bipartisan congressional decision that marijuana banking legislation will not be incorporated in the final version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (a/k/a The America COMPETES Act).

The latest push to enact the policy reform that would protect banks that work with-state legal marijuana businesses comes from the American Bankers Association (ABA) and other financial organizations in a form of a letter sent to House leadership.

Along with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, the ABA is urging lawmakers to approve changes to a large-scale defense bill.

“We take no position on legalizing or decriminalizing medicinal or recreational cannabis at either the state or federal level,” the financial organizations stated in the letter. “However, financial institutions operating in states where it is legal have business and individuals involved in the cannabis market who need access to traditional depository and lending services, the absence of which creates a significant public safety issue.”

The letter further stipulates that “even those financial institutions that choose not to bank the cannabis industry risk unknowingly serving cannabis businesses in states where cannabis is legal. Indirect connections are often difficult to identify and avoid because, like any other industry, those offering cannabis-related services work with vendors and suppliers. Under current law, a financial institution that does business with any one of these indirectly affiliated entities could unknowingly violate federal law.”

The proposal is now pending a vote on the House floor on Wednesday. Previously, the House advanced the cannabis banking measure some six times, either as an amendment or as a stand-alone piece of legislation.

Photo: Courtesy of micheile dot com on Unsplash

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