Legislation intended to clarify that credit unions and other financial institutions may provide banking services to legal cannabis-related businesses was passed by a House panel Thursday on an overwhelming vote; the bill now heads to the floor for consideration.
Significantly, it’s the first time that such legislation has reached this stage of the lawmaking process.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (The SAFE Banking Act, H.R. 1595) passed the House Financial Services Committee on a vote of 45-15, which means it had bipartisan support. As drafted, the legislation would give legal cannabis-related businesses access to financial institution services and exempt financial institutions and employees from federal prosecution (or investigation) solely for providing services to state-authorized, cannabis-related businesses.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and has Reps. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) among its 152 cosponsors.
It would bar federal financial institution regulators from taking several actions against financial institutions serving legal cannabis-related businesses, including:
- Terminating or limiting deposit insurance at a bank or credit union “solely because the depository institution provides or has provided financial services to a cannabis-related legitimate business”;
- Prohibiting, penalizing, or discouraging a bank or credit union from providing financial services to (first) a cannabis-related legitimate business or (second) to a state (and its political subdivisions or Indian Tribe) that exercises jurisdiction over cannabis-related legitimate businesses;
- Encouraging (in any way) a bank or credit union not to offer or to downgrade financial services to account holders solely because they own or become an owner of a cannabis-related legitimate business;
- Taking any “adverse or corrective supervisory action on a loan made to an owner or operator” of a cannabis-related legitimate business or for real estate or equipment leased to that business.