Bipartisan Bill Would Expand Access to Financial Services for Cannabis Industry
The New England Council is calling on Congress to enact the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill that would create protections for depository and insurance institutions that provide financial related services to legal cannabis-related businesses and their service providers. In a letter sent to each member of the New England House and Senate delegation, the Council encouraged the region’s Senators and Representatives to support the SAFE Banking Act.
In the letter, the Council noted that all six New England states have legalized medical marijuana, and three have legalized adult recreational use. The Council noted, however, that because marijuana is still classified as an illegal controlled substance under federal law, these legitimate, licensed businesses cannot access banking or insurance services. As a result, they are forced to operate as cash-only businesses, which creates a risk of tax evasion, money laundering, robbery, and other public safety threats. Further, their customers—who oftentimes are purchasing cannabis product to alleviate a wide range of medical issues—are limited in payment options.
The bill was originally introduced during the 116th Congress, and was passed by the House of Representatives in September 2019, but was never taken up in the Senate. The legislation was reintroduced in the House (H.R. 1996) on March 18, 2021, and in the Senate (S. 910) on March 23, 2021.