“It makes absolutely no sense that legal cannabis businesses are being forced to operate entirely in cash. It’s dangerous—and sometime even fatal—for the employees behind the register, but this situation is also completely preventable.” — Senator Murray
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), held a press conference in Tukwila on April 20th, to discuss the urgent need to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in order to update federal cannabis banking regulations and build safer communities in Washington state. During the event, Senator Murray outlined the path forward for the SAFE Banking Act and affirmed her commitment to getting this legislation signed into law. Of note, Senator Murray—is a key negotiator and member of the conference committee which will negotiate the differences between the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House-passed America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act. The SAFE Banking Act was included in the House-passed COMPETES Act, but not the Senate-passed USICA. Senator Murray announced that she would work to ensure the final bill negotiated by the House and Senate includes the SAFE Banking Act.
“It makes absolutely no sense that legal cannabis businesses are being forced to operate entirely in cash. It’s dangerous—and sometime even fatal—for the employees behind the register, but this situation is also completely preventable,” said Senator Murray. “I’ve been pushing the federal government—particularly my Republican colleagues—to catch up with Washington state. I am working to update our laws so that these legal small businesses have a safe way to do business. I am urging every one of my colleagues to come together so that we can finally pass the SAFE Banking Act.”
“Over in the other Washington, we have gotten a lot of good bipartisan work done in recent months and weeks: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a major government funding package, a bill to strengthen supply chains and boost manufacturing, badly-needed postal reform to keep USPS solvent, and a whole lot more. I want us to make 2022 the year we send SAFE Banking to President Biden’s desk—and I believe we can do it.”
During the event, Senator Murray was joined by Washington State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti and Shea Hynes, a local cannabis store owner.
To address the safety concerns resulting from these state legal businesses being shut out of banking services, the SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from:
- Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging a bank from providing financial services to a legitimate state-sanctioned and regulated cannabis business, or an associated business (such as an lawyer or landlord providing services to a legal cannabis business);
- Terminating or limiting a bank’s federal deposit insurance solely because the bank is providing services to a state-sanctioned cannabis business or associated business;
- Recommending or incentivizing a bank to halt or downgrade providing any kind of banking services to these businesses; or
- Taking any action on a loan to an owner or operator of a cannabis-related business.
The bill also creates a safe harbor from criminal prosecution and liability and asset forfeiture for banks and their officers and employees who provide financial services to legitimate, state-sanctioned cannabis businesses, while maintaining banks’ right to choose not to offer those services. The bill also provides protections for hemp and hemp-derived CBD related businesses.
The bill would require banks to comply with current Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance, while at the same time allowing FinCEN guidance to be streamlined over time as states and the federal government adapt to legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis policies.