ABA, State Bankers Associations Urge Lawmakers to Pass SAFE Banking Act

In two letters to House leaders today, the American Bankers Association and 51 state bankers associations expressed support for the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, which would provide a safe harbor for depository institutions seeking to serve legitimate cannabis-related businesses in states where such activity is legal. The House is expected to vote on the bill later today.

The bill was passed by the House in the last Congress but was not taken up in the Senate. Currently, 36 states have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use, but current federal law prevents banks from safely banking cannabis businesses, including ancillary businesses that provide them with goods and services. “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 prohibiting it,” ABA said in its letter of support. “Congress must act to resolve this conflict between state and federal law.”

In a separate letter, the state bankers associations emphasized that as a result of this conflict, “this segment of our local economies is forced to operate on an all-cash basis, which creates serious public safety, revenue administration and legal compliance concerns.” They added that “our members are committed to serving the financial needs of their communities—including those that have voted to legalize cannabis.”