Senate Committee Holds Cannabis Banking Hearing as Industry Advocates Prepare for Annual Fly-in Event
By Bethany Moore
May 11, 2023

Senate Committee Holds Cannabis Banking Hearing as Industry Advocates Prepare for Annual Fly-in Event

Thursday, May 11, 2023


Aaron Smith, CEO and Cofounder
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Bethany Moore, Communications Director
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Senate Committee Holds Cannabis Banking Hearing as Industry Advocates Prepare for Annual Fly-in Event

Over 100 Cannabis Business Leaders Will Join Lawmakers Calling for Congressional Action on the SAFE Banking Act and Other Priorities Next Week

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs conducted an oversight hearing today to examine the challenges federal banking policy poses to cannabis businesses, their employees, and the states that regulate them. Witnesses included Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) who provided testimony outlining the difficulties their states are facing due to a lack of access to banking in the cannabis industry. 

Senators Merkley and Daines recently introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, along with 38 original cosponsors. The legislation would amend federal statute to allow banks and financial institutions to do business with the cannabis industry without fear of running afoul of federal laws intended to keep illegal drug transactions out of the banking system. The House has passed its version of the SAFE Banking Act with wide bipartisan margins seven times during previous congresses. 

Advocates are pleased the Senate is taking up this issue and are urging Senate leadership to schedule a committee hearing and markup for the SAFE Banking Act (S.1323) as soon as possible.

In his written testimony to the committee, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) co-founder and chief executive officer Aaron Smith underscored the need for immediate congressional action on the cannabis banking issue.

“Comprehensive reforms that would align federal law with the growing number of states regulating cannabis and end the harms associated with decades of failed prohibition are sorely needed. However, the legislative process to achieve those reforms is likely to take several more years and the crisis states are facing due to outdated banking policy demands urgent action,” wrote Smith. “The Senate has a unique opportunity to solve the dangerous and unnecessary crisis by passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.”

The hearing serves as a significant precursor to the NCIA’s 11th Annual Lobby Days, taking place in Washington, D.C. next week. Cannabis industry professionals and advocates from across the nation will travel to the capital to discuss key issues with lawmakers, including the banking challenges discussed in the oversight hearing.

The association’s advocacy fly-in will take place May 17th and 18th and will include a reception with members of Congress and VIPs hosted by leading national law and public affairs firm Michael Best Strategies on the evening of the 17th as well as a morning briefing for Senate staff and members of the media on the cannabis banking issue on the 18th.

Over the course of the event, over 150 meetings will be held with Congressional representatives to discuss the negative impact that outdated federal prohibition has on the legal cannabis industry and to advocate for the passage of the SAFE Banking Act.

Industry advocates and lawmakers will be available for comment during the Senate briefing Thursday.

WHAT: Senate Staff Briefing on the SAFE Banking Act & NCIA’s 11th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days

WHEN: Thursday, May 18, 2023, 9:00 AM Eastern 

WHERE: 325 Russell Senate Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

WHO: National Cannabis Industry Association members and leadership and members of Congress TBA 

Members of the media may request a press credential for the briefing by contacting Bethany Moore at

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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.


Cannabis Industry United in Support of Upcoming Cannabis Banking Hearing, Urges Action to Address Access to Capital for Small Operators

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