Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) today introduced a bipartisan bill that aims to address the gap between state and federal laws that inhibits most financial institutions from serving cannabis businesses. The SAFE Banking Act specifies that proceeds from “cannabis-related legitimate businesses” would not be considered unlawful under federal money laundering rules or other laws.
The bill would provide a safe harbor for banks that serve these businesses, preventing regulators from penalizing a bank for providing services to a cannabis-related legitimate business or its employees or owners, as well as to related businesses such as landlords or service providers. It would also direct the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and federal banking regulators to issue guidance and exam procedures for banks that serve cannabis-related legitimate businesses.
The American Bankers Association expressed its support for the SAFE Banking Act, noting that it is “an important step” forward. “Explicit, consistent direction from federal financial regulators will provide needed clarity for banks and help them to better evaluate the risks and supervisory expectations for cannabis-related customers,” wrote ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols. “The SAFE Banking Act is not a cure for all cannabis banking challenges, but it is an important measure that helps clarify many issues for the banking industry and regulators.”