Allowing cannabis companies to access traditional banks and financial services has bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. And it is a no-brainer; barring cannabis companies from accessing financial services is a public safety risk and a massive hindrance to business efficiency and tax collection, with no corresponding benefits. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (“SAFE Banking Act”) would give comfort to those that bank marijuana-related businesses. Yet despite the bipartisan support, the SAFE Banking Act has been stuck in the United States Senate Banking Committee, with Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) previously indicating that he was in no rush to advance the measure (or anything similar).
News yesterday suggests Senator Crapo may be warming to the SAFE Banking Act. On July 23, 2019, the Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on cannabis banking reform. Invited to speak are Senators Corey Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who jointly introduced the SAFE Banking Act in the Senate earlier this year. Representatives from the financial and cannabis industries are also expected to testify.
There is, of course, no guarantee that the SAFE Banking Act moves forward after the hearing. But if Senator Crapo did not want to move the Act, he had the ability to keep it bottled up in committee. The mere fact that he has agreed to hold the hearing is thus a very good sign. We will have an update following the July 23 hearing.