SAFE banking act reintroduced on the Senate

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The bill will run its course as a similar bill is considered in the House

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act has garnered a considerable amount of attention on the House side of Congress, so lawmakers on the Senate side want to keep the momentum going. Senators Cory Gardner and Jeff Merkley have reintroduced the SAFE Banking Act to the Senate in hopes that legislation will find a quicker resolution if both chambers are reviewing the bill simultaneously.

The SAFE Act is designed to allow banks to work with cannabis companies without fear of reprisal from the federal government, which still says cannabis and marijuana are illegal. It would prevent federal banking regulators from sanctioning banks for working with state-compliant businesses and from terminating services to those entities. It would also prohibit action against financial institutions that issue loans and prevent access to the Deposit Insurance Fund.

Merkley said in a statement, “Forcing legal businesses to operate in all-cash is dangerous for our communities. It’s absurd that cannabis business owners in Oregon have to shuttle around gym bags full of cash to take care of their taxes or pay their employees. Operating in cash is an invitation to robbery, money laundering and organized crime. This is a public safety issue, and I hope that this will be the Congress when we build a bipartisan consensus to put this common-sense fix into law.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin believes Congress should step up and find a resolution quickly. He said last week, “There is not a Treasury solution to this. There is not a regulator solution to this. If this is something that Congress wants to look at on a bipartisan basis, I’d encourage you to do this. This is something where there is a conflict between federal and state law that we and the regulators have no way of dealing with.”