Fed presidents push for marijuana banking

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The SAFE Act will help, but financial authorities want an answer now

If the SAFE Act is approved this year, it will go a long way toward helping marijuana companies receive rightful access to financial services. The problem is, previous attempts to authorize similar legislation have failed and the marijuana community – as well as financial authorities – are growing more impatient by the hour. Three Federal Reserve Bank presidents have now spoken up and want rules sooner, rather than later.

During a panel discussion of the American Bankers Association, the trio were questioned about cannabis laws and financial institutions. They all stated the same thing – that a resolution is needed and that the lack of any input is creating difficulties for both cannabis companies and financial institutions.

Tom Barkin, who heads the Fed of Richmond, stated, “For better or for worse, we’re responsible to follow federal law, and so we would very much like to have clarification on this. Whatever legislative answer gets us to clarity would be our preferred outcome.”

His position was backed by the CEO of the Fed of Kansas City, Esther George, who added that “the reality on the ground is there are businesses that are considered state-legal around this substance, and the money that is generated from that again, is a challenge for the banks.”

Fed Atlanta boss Raphael Bostic asserted that federal cannabis laws have placed banks “in an impossible situation because we don’t actually have a vote at either level but are asked to sort of navigate in this middle space,” adding, “There’s not really a clear thing for us to say—we can’t give anyone 100 percent certainty in terms of how this is going to turn out. I do hope that we get some legislative clarity sooner rather than later. I would love some resolution, one way or the other, as soon as we possibly can because this has only become more prominent.”

The SAFE Act was approved by the House Financial Services Committee last week, but it still has not been scheduled for a full House vote.