ABA Urges Congress to Resolve Conflict Over Cannabis

With the House Financial Services Committee set to hold a hearing tomorrow on the challenge of banking marijuana-related businesses, the American Bankers Association today submitted a statement for the record urging Congress to resolve the legal conflict that inhibits banks from serving MRBs operating legally at the state level.

ABA noted that it does not take a position on cannabis legalization. “However, our member banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law banning it,” ABA said, adding that “the majority of financial institutions will not take the legal, regulatory or reputational risk associated with banking cannabis-related businesses without congressional action.”

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) yesterday circulated a draft of a bipartisan bill, the SAFE Banking Act, that would aim to address many concerns banks have about banking MRBs. It would specify that proceeds from legitimate cannabis businesses would not be considered unlawful under anti-money laundering statutes, and it would direct the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the banking agencies to issue appropriate guidance and exam procedures.

ABA described the draft legislation as “an important first step toward enabling financial services for cannabis-related businesses,” and ABA staff are working closely with lawmakers to share bankers’ perspectives on the issue.