State Bankers Keep Pressure on Senate to Open Up Financial Services Markets to Marijuana-Related Businesses

Locke Lord LLP

Earlier this month, 38 attorneys general wrote congressional leaders urging passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (the “SAFE Banking Act”). We wrote about that here. This week, bankers associations from all 50 states and Puerto Rico wrote Senate leaders and (without specifically mentioning the SAFE Banking Act) urged an end to the exclusion of marijuana-related businesses from the financial services market, contending that “[l]eaving the cannabis industry unbanked presents serious public safety, revenue administration, and legal compliance concerns and must be remedied immediately.”

The SAFE Banking Act has bipartisan support and easily passed out of committee in the House. If brought to a vote, we anticipate it would pass in the Senate as well. But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) has indicated that he is in no hurry to push the legislation forward, and under Senate rules, he has the power to keep the SAFE Banking Act bottled up. Nevertheless, the pressure continues to mount from a variety of angles, and this latest letter was signed by Idaho’s Bankers Association (Senator Crapo’s home state). We remain skeptical that this pressure will be sufficient to convince Senator Crapo to move the SAFE Banking Act forward this year, but we remain optimistic that legislation will eventually open the financial industry to marijuana-related businesses.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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