As we’ve written about extensively, the SAFE Banking Act has gone through several twists and turns. The proposed bill would remove restrictions on banks and insurance companies that effectively prohibit them from offering services to marijuana-related businesses. Because of these restrictions, most cannabis businesses are forced to operate in cash only, which causes a multitude of problems, from safety to logistics to tax oversight.
According to a recent S&P Global Market Intelligence article (subscription required), there might be reason for renewed optimism. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) told a group of credit unions that he and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have “made a great deal of progress in finding common ground” with Senate Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-ID) that could allow for passage “in a matter of months.” Along with this update, Sen. Gardner reiterated the need for banking and insurance reform with respect to cannabis. “We need to get this all-cash economy into the disinfectant of sunlight and out of the shadows, so we can put it into our financial system, so we know exactly what is happening and where it is going,” Sen. Gardner said.
The SAFE Banking Act passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support in September 2019, but it has not made much progress since, stagnating in Sen. Crapo’s Banking Committee. Sen. Crapo’s initial opposition to the bill has softened, although that seems to be in part due to changes he has proposed that seem untenable to those in the industry. We believe that the SAFE Banking Act is still the most likely to pass of any federal marijuana reform bill, but there are still several hurdles to clear before all stakeholders are comfortable with it moving forward.
Keep an eye on our blog for updates on the SAFE Banking Act and the cannabis industry generally.