SAFE Banking Act of 2021 (S 910)

On February 3, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) joined as the 41st cosponsor of the senate’s SAFE Banking Act. While Rep. Ed Perlmutter has vowed to attach SAFE Banking as an amendment to every bill he can, the cannabis banking measure is still opposed by senate leadership, who can remove it during the reconciliation process.

On January 10, 2022, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), chief sponsor and champion of the SAFE Banking Act, announced that he will not be seeking re-election to the United States House of Representatives. Cannabis banking reform was among the accomplishments mentioned by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) in response to Perlmutter’s retirement.

“I was proud to partner with him,” said Hoyer, in a statement, “to bring his SAFE Banking Act to the House Floor for a vote to ensure that legal cannabis businesses in Colorado and other states can access our banking system without facing undue hardships.” The House voted overwhelmingly in favor, but the bill stalled in the Senate for the second straight session.

After the Senate removed Perlmutter’s SAFE Banking amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in December, cannabis banking already seemed out of reach until 2023. Without its main champion in the House, the business-focused fix is more likely than ever to be incorporated into future comprehensive reform.

Perlmutter has pledged to keep pushing SAFE Banking through amendment in 2022. Colleagues and activists praised him for his efforts on this and other cannabis reform measures over the years.

Original Cannabis Banking Reports

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While defense bills don't usually interest cannabis advocates, an amendment added by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) included the language of the SAFE Banking Act in the NDAA. With the standalone bill stalled in the Senate Banking Committee, an amendment to the "must-pass" legislation could be the key.
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Statement from Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado

Updated: 7/23/21

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, sponsor of H.R. 1996, the House version of the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, released a statement about unbanked and underbanked consumers. He directly addressed cannabis businesses.

Unbanked and underbanked consumers often rely on alternative non-bank financial products such as check cashing, money orders, bill payment, or other services, which typically come with higher costs and may not be as reliable as traditional banking services. An additional 53 million Americans have access to a bank account but also rely on alternative financial services in place of traditional banking. According to a 2019 FDIC survey of U.S. households, the top reason reported by households for not having a bank account was because they did not have enough money to meet a bank account’s minimum balance requirements. Other reasons cited were a lack of trust in banks, privacy concerns, inconvenience, and fees.

Cannabis businesses are an example of an entire industry that remains significantly unbanked and underbanked. Cannabis with over 0.3% THC is not legalized under federal law and most financial institutions are unwilling to provide services to the industry out of fear of criminal prosecution or regulatory risk. Perlmutter’s bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, which has passed the U.S. of Representatives four times, would create a safe harbor for financial institutions serving state-legal cannabis businesses.

Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Sponsor of H.R. 1996

Statement from Rep. Charlie Crist

Updated: 6/30/21

Rep, Charlie Crist, D-F.L., released a statement yesterday updating constituents on the progress he’s made with the Financial Services Appropriations Bill. Among other accomplishments, he mentioned language added to protect cannabis banking in the style of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021.

It’s hard to put too much faith in a Christmas-tree bill with text continually added, removed and changed before full passage. Still, the bill is out of committee headed for a full vote in the House. There’s hope that it will be allowed to quietly pass. Full post

The SAFE Banking Act as of June 22, 2021

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021 is a bill making its way through the United States Congress. Because cannabis is still listed under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic, legal cannabis businesses can have their assets seized by the federal government. The SAFE Banking Act would protect cannabis businesses that use banking services and the financial institutions that provide those services.

Cannabis banking passed the US House in 2019 with overwhelming support (321-103). Unfortunately, the bill never made it out of the Senate Banking Committee. There is a renewed push for cannabis banking in this congressional session, but the future remains uncertain.

The SAFE Banking Act of 2021 passed in the House (H.R. 1996) on April 19, 2021, again with strong support (321-101). The Senate version (S. 910) was introduced and referred to the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on March 23. It has not been scheduled for markup yet.

The Senate co-sponsors, Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-O.R., and Steve Daines, R-M.T., sent an open letter on June 17. They asked the committee’s chairman and ranking member to schedule a markup of Senate 910 for the sake of public safety. For now, it seems to be stuck in the committee chaired by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-O.H.

Profiles In Legalization News will be updating this page with stories and source links until cannabis banking is realized.

Senate 910 Text


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