Senate committee advances cannabis banking legislation

A proposed rewrite of a cannabis banking bill cleared the Senate Banking Committee by bipartisan vote today. The committee voted 14-9 to advance the SAFER Banking Act to the full Senate for consideration, with only a technical amendment made to clean up the bill’s text. The legislation, a revised version of the SAFE Banking Act, would enable financial institutions to serve legitimate cannabis businesses in states where it is legal.

Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told senators that regardless of how they feel about the legalization of marijuana, the bill was necessary to make it safer for businesses and service providers to operate in states that have legalized cannabis. “Cannabis policies look different in different states, but legal cannabis small businesses and their employees are running into many of the same issues,” he said. “One of these issues is access to financial services.”

In a statement after the vote, American Bankers Association President and CEO Rob Nichols said the bill was urgently needed to resolve the ongoing conflict between state and federal law so that banks can serve state-authorized cannabis and cannabis-related businesses while enhancing public safety, tax collection and financial transparency. “The status quo is simply untenable for consumers, small businesses and banks operating in states where cannabis is legal,” he said.