Governors from across the United States and its territories urged Congress to pass legislation to allow banks in states that permit medical or adult-use cannabis to legally operate under the supervision of the U.S. banking system.
In a letter to Congress, the governors advocated for the Secure and Fair Enforcement ("SAFE") Banking Act, or similar legislation, to remove legal uncertainty for banks and credit unions seeking to provide marijuana financing. As previously noted, the SAFE Banking Act creates protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and to service providers for such businesses. According to the governors' letter, without the services of banks to help manage the businesses, the cannabis industry is forced to rely on cash to transact legal cannabis business, which poses an additional burden on state and local agencies, as well as an employee safety risk. The governors strongly recommended that Congress pass the SAFE Banking Act to reduce burdens, legal risks, and criminal and civil liability stemming from the state-legal marijuana trade.
The governor's letter comes on the heels of several comment letters from a variety of influential interest groups that include the National Association of Attorneys General, the American Bankers Association, the National Association of State Treasurers, and all 59 state Bankers Associations advocating passage of the SAFE Banking Act.
A bipartisan group of Attorneys General urged policymakers to establish a safe harbor for financial institutions providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses.
The American Bankers Association expressed support for the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019.
The House Financial Services Committee voted to advance a revised version of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019. In addition, legislators reintroduced a bill that would restrict federal enforcement against state-legal cannabis activity.