ABA Voices Support for Cannabis Banking Legislation

In a letter to Senate members today, ABA offered support for S. 1200, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act—a bipartisan Senate bill introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) that would enable financial services for legitimate cannabis-related businesses. An identical bill was recently passed by the House Financial Services Committee on a bipartisan vote of 45 to 15.

ABA noted that the SAFE Banking Act—which specifies that proceeds from legitimate cannabis businesses would not be considered unlawful under anti-money laundering statutes—would help clarify many issues for the banking industry, regulators, businesses and consumers.

While the association does not take a position on cannabis legalization, it acknowledged that 33 states covering 68% of the nation’s population currently have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use. “Despite that, current federal law prevents banks from banking cannabis businesses, as well as the ancillary businesses that provide them with goods and services,” ABA said. “Without greater clarity, that entire portion of economic activity—estimated by some to be in the tens of billions of dollars—in legal cannabis states will continue to be marginalized from the banking system.”