In testimony today before the Senate Banking Committee, American Bankers Association banker Joanne Sherwood urged lawmakers to pass the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, which would allow financial institutions to serve cannabis-related businesses in states that have legalized the drug.
Sherwood, president and CEO of Citywide Banks in Denver, Colo., highlighted several challenges communities face when legitimate cannabis businesses are unable to access the banking system. For example, these businesses are often forced to operate only in cash, and in Denver alone, cannabis businesses—which make up less than 1% of all local businesses—accounted for 10% of all reported burglaries from 2012-2016.
She added that there would be significant public benefits to allowing financial institutions to serve cannabis businesses—many of which were highlighted in a white paper released this week by ABA. “Although the SAFE Banking Act does not cure all of the cannabis-related banking challenges, it would help the 33 states that have legalized cannabis in some form to make their communities safer, collect their taxes, and regulate their cannabis markets effectively,” Sherwood said.