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"Senate banking hearing highlights broad bipartisan support to move SAFE banking forward"

The National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR) is applauding the leadership of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and SAFE Banking Act (S.1323) sponsors Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) as the Committee concluded its bipartisan hearing on cannabis banking. The hearing marked the first Senate Committee action on cannabis banking since 2019 and is a critical first step in moving this bipartisan bill through regular order.

“Today’s hearing showcased broad bipartisan support for this critical piece of legislation needed to normalize banking services for the state-legal cannabis industry – enhancing public safety, increasing transparency, supporting small businesses, and countering Chinese-backed investments in the illicit market that have grown due to federal inaction in this space. The hearing showcased thoughtful discussion from members on both sides of the aisle, with a consensus among witnesses that the bill could go further to be most impactful, which should include providing broader access to financial services during committee markup,” said Saphira Galoob, Executive Director of the National Cannabis Roundtable. “While there was not an opportunity today to hear from any small cannabis operators or an employee of a cannabis-related business, NCR will make sure their key voices are heard on the Hill as this bill moves forward in the Senate, and, ultimately, the House. We thank Sens. Merkley, Daines, Brown, and Scott for their leadership on this important measure.”

“The SAFE Banking Act would help address a major cause of this increase in violent crime by providing a safe harbor for depository institutions and service providers to transact with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses. In short, this bill would make it much easier for businesses to put their cash into banks. It’s not that complicated,” said Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), lead Republican sponsor of S. 1323. “This legislation is also widely supported by banks, credit unions, the insurance industry, and many other service providers who, at present, do not have clear guidelines for how they can safely and legally transact with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

“A bipartisan coalition of 38 state and territorial attorneys general came out in support of this bill in the past, and we have strengthened it considerably based on feedback from the Department of Justice,” Sen. Daines added. “The people in states across this country have spoken, and it is abundantly clear that the status quo is not only untenable, it is dangerous. The SAFE Banking Act is a commonsense bill that can and should pass and would immediately improve the public safety threats we are seeing on the ground.”

“From the beginning, it’s been a bipartisan effort to address these challenges,” said Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), lead Democratic sponsor of S. 1323. “To be clear, banks will not be forced to provide services to these businesses, it simply creates a safe space for both the financial institutions and the legal cannabis industry. It explicitly extends the safe harbor to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) – who serve underserved communities facing challenges in accessing capital and provide affordable access to financial services – so they can also serve cannabis businesses.

“We have a piece of legislation that enjoys strong bipartisan, bicameral support from people who believe the time has come to change our approach to these industries and how they are able to operate,” Sen. Merkley added. “It is beyond unacceptable that, with more than half the country embracing some form of legalized cannabis, we would continue to allow this dangerous and untenable situation of forcing legitimate business to operate entirely in cash here in the 21st Century.”

For more information:
National Cannabis Roundtable 

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