American Bar Association pushes for banking protection for cannabis industry

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The legal industry is calling on lawmakers to offer assurances on banking with cannabis companies

While the SAFE Banking act seems to be going at a very slow pace, the cannabis industry continues to exist without the support of traditional financial institutions. The American Bar Association (ABA) had its midyear meeting on Monday, and two resolutions were approved regarding marijuana. Both received positive support from the House of Delegates, and benefit greatly those businesses and individuals providing financial and legal services to the cannabis industry.

The first group’s resolution was to endorse any proposal or pending legislation that was created to protect not only cannabis businesses, but also banks engaging in financial services with those entities. The second motion calls for a clarification of the current rules, which is to ensure lawyers that they won’t incur any penalizations for representing clients that are part of the cannabis industry.

Stated in this banking resolution, ABA “urges Congress to enact legislation to clarify and ensure that it shall not constitute a federal crime for banking and financial institutions to provide services to businesses and individuals, including attorneys, who receive compensation from the sale of state-legalized cannabis or who provide services to cannabis-related legitimate business acting in accordance with state, territorial, and tribal laws.”

ABA also referred to a bill that has the intention of accomplishing all of this at once, but which, even though it has been approved by the House, is still stuck in the Senate, awaiting action from the Banking Committee. The biggest opposition comes from Senator Mike Crapo, who is now under pressure to move forward with this legislation. “Passage of the [Secure and Fair Enforcement] Banking Act or similar legislation will provide security for lawyers and firms acting to advise companies in the industry against having their accounts closed or deposits seized,” a report attached to the ABA resolution states. “This will also foster the rule of law by ensuring that those working in the state-legalized legitimate cannabis industry can seek counsel and help prevent money laundering and other crimes associated with off-the-books cash transactions.”