ABA offers strong support for bipartisan SAFE Act

The American Bankers Association this week wrote to congressional leaders to offer strong support for the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act bill long championed by the association that would address the conflict between state law and federal law over cannabis banking. The bill—which has passed the House in several prior Congresses—was introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Reps. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

Calling bill an “urgently needed” measure, ABA noted that it would help address significant public safety concerns, given that most cannabis businesses operate primarily in cash, and also better enable regulators, tax collectors and law enforcement to monitor the industry more effectively. “Processing transactions through bank accounts instead of in cash would ensure that regulators and law enforcement have the necessary tools to identify bad actors and also enhance tax collection and financial transparency in the thirty-seven states where cannabis is now legal at the state level.”

The bill would also direct the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue guidance and exam procedures for banks doing businesses with legal cannabis businesses. “Explicit, consistent direction from federal financial regulators will provide needed clarity for banks and help them better evaluate the risks and supervisory expectations for cannabis-related customers,” ABA said.