Senators introduce new version of SAFE Act

A bipartisan group of senators today introduced a new version of a bill to enable financial institutions to serve legitimate cannabis businesses in states where it is legal. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation, or SAFER, Banking Act would allow all businesses to access deposit accounts, insurance and other financial services, according to a summary of the legislation provided by its sponsors. In addition to addressing cannabis banking, the bill would separately create standards for banks and credit unions “to maintain customer relationships and to expand access to deposit accounts for underbanked groups.”

The SAFER Banking Act is a revised version of the American Bankers Association-backed SAFE Act, which was introduced earlier this year with sponsors from both parties. ABA is reviewing the new legislation. The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a Sept. 27 vote on the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) are sponsoring the bill. “This legislation will help make our communities and small businesses safer by giving legal cannabis businesses access to traditional financial institutions, including bank accounts and small-business loans,” the sponsors said in a joint statement. “It also prevents federal bank regulators from ordering a bank or credit union to close an account based on reputational risk.”