Last week, a bipartisan group of attorneys general from 33 states and five U.S. territories sent a letter to congressional leaders urging passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (the “SAFE Banking Act”). The SAFE Banking Act would generally immunize banks and other financial institutions from legal consequences for doing business with marijuana-related businesses. The attorneys general noted that excluding the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry from traditional financial and banking services “makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation and regulatory compliance purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash-intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of billions in finances across the nation.” The full letter can be read here.
The SAFE Banking Act appeared to have momentum earlier this year when it overwhelming passed through the House Financial Services Committee with bipartisan support. But that momentum proved short-lived. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, recently indicated he was in no hurry to move the SAFE Act along in the Senate, significantly dimming hopes of passage in the near future.
The attorneys general seem to be hoping that continuing to highlight this issue will increase the pressure on Congress—and most particularly Senator Crapo—to act. It remains to be seen whether that will work. Notably absent from the letter’s signatories was Idaho’s attorney general, suggesting that there is little in-state pressure on Senator Crapo to move the SAFE Banking Act forward.
We will continue to monitor the SAFE Banking Act given its huge implications for the cannabis industry.