FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Aaron Smith, CEO and Cofounder
(888) 683-5650, Aaron@TheCannabisIndustry.org
Bethany Moore, Communications Director
(240) 678-2654, Communications@TheCannabisIndustry.org
SAFE Banking Act Reintroduced in the U.S House and Senate
Advocates call for passage of bipartisan SAFE Banking Act to open the financial system to licensed cannabis businesses
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. This bicameral legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would protect financial institutions from federal prosecution for providing services to cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state laws.
Federal banking regulations currently do not recognize the legal cannabis industry that exists in dozens of U.S. states, creating a significant barrier for licensed businesses accessing banking and financial services. This creates transparency issues for the industry and government officials tasked with regulating it and has led to cannabis businesses being increasingly targeted for robbery with sometimes fatal results.
Providing a safe harbor for financial service providers to work with cannabis businesses would also allow for traditional lending, which is currently limited throughout the industry. This lack of access to capital most adversely affects small and minority-owned businesses.
Previous versions of the SAFE Banking Act have been approved by the House with wide margins and significant bipartisan support seven times over the past two congressional sessions, however, the bill has so far stalled in the Senate. Advocates are hopeful that the legislation will receive a hearing and an affirmative vote in both chambers and signed into law this year, as more states continue to enact laws licensing cannabis sales.
There are currently 322 House members and 76 senators representing states with comprehensive medical or adult-use cannabis laws and whose constituents would directly benefit from passage of the SAFE Banking Act.
“With a supermajority of Congress now representing a state with licensed cannabis sales, enacting this sensible and necessary legislation should be among the least controversial issues before the Senate today,” said National Cannabis Industry Association co-founder and CEO Aaron Smith. “This bill is a common sense step toward improving public safety and transparency while also opening much-needed access to capital to struggling small businesses throughout the nation.”
A November 2022 Gallup survey found that 68% of Americans support making cannabis legal for adults and a recent Pew Research Center poll found that less than 10% of Americans still support marijuana prohibition.
Over 100 National Cannabis Industry Association members are expected to travel to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the passage of the SAFE Banking Act and other industry priorities at the organization’s 11th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days May 16-18.
Laws to make cannabis legal for adults have passed in 22 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 38 states, as well as several territories, have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. Nearly three in four Americans live in a state where cannabis is legal in some form.
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization focused on representing small and independent cannabis-related businesses at the national level. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible, sustainable, and inclusive cannabis industry and works for a favorable social, economic, and regulatory environment for that industry throughout the United States.