Letter to New England delegation urges members to support SAFE Banking
BOSTON (April 1, 2021) – The New England Council, a non-partisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations, is urging Congress to enact legislation to ensure that legal cannabis-related businesses have access to key financial services, including banking and insurance. The Council has endorsed the bipartisan SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act, which 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 send 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. The letter 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 New England states have each enacted policies that allow for the legal sale of cannabis products, and as a result we are seeing significant growth in this new sector in our region’s economy,” said Council President & CEO James T. Brett. “However, due to the discrepancy between state and federal law, these businesses are unable to access banking and insurance services, and their customers are limited in payment options. We urge Congress to take action to address this discrepancy and make the cannabis industry more safe, transparent, accountable, and accessible.”
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. Already, 11 New England Senators and six New England Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors, and the Council’s goal in sending letters is to increase support for the bill among the region’s delegation.
The New England Council, the country’s oldest regional business organization, is an alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the region. The Council is dedicated to identifying and supporting federal public policies and articulating the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. The NEC is also committed to working with public and private sector leaders across the region and in Washington through educational programs and forums for information exchange. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.