State Associations Urge Cannabis Hearings in Senate

The 51 state bankers associations today urged the Senate Banking Committee to hold hearings on legislative solutions to the conundrum faced by banks in states where marijuana has been legalized. While legislation backed by the American Bankers Association — the SAFE Banking Act — cleared the House Financial Services Committee in March, no action has been taken on the companion bill in the Senate.

“Since 1996, 33 states comprising 68 percent of the nation’s population have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use, and that number is only expected to grow,” the associations said. “Despite this ever-growing voter preference, current federal law continues to prevent banks from safely banking these businesses without fear of federal sanctions. Leaving the cannabis industry unbanked presents serious public safety, revenue administration, and legal compliance concerns and must be remedied immediately.”

In their letter to the committee’s leadership, the associations — which did not take a position on the legalization of marijuana — acknowledged that “there are broader public policy questions surrounding cannabis legalization that merit debate, but we ask that you focus narrowly on the urgent banking problem at hand, which is within your power to resolve.”