House Passes ABA-Backed SAFE Banking Act

By a bipartisan vote of 321 to 101 on Monday night, the House passed the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, the ABA-supported bill that provides clarity to financial institutions seeking to serve legitimate cannabis businesses. “We thank Rep. Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and the bill’s 180 cosponsors for their leadership and support and urge the Senate to move quickly to pass this much-needed legislation to clarify these issues for both the banking industry and regulators,” ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols said after the bill's passage. 

Earlier in the day, ABA and 51 state bankers associations wrote to lawmakers in support of the bill, which provides a safe harbor for depository institutions seeking to serve legitimate cannabis-related businesses in states where such activity is legal. The SDBA thanks Congressman Dusty Johnson for voting in support of the bill. 

The bill was previously passed by the House in the last Congress but was not taken up in the Senate. Currently, 36 states have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use, but current federal law prevents banks from safely banking cannabis businesses, including ancillary businesses that provide them with goods and services. “Our member banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law prohibiting it,” ABA said in its letter of support. “Congress must act to resolve this conflict between state and federal law.”

In a separate letter, the state bankers associations emphasized that as a result of this conflict, “this segment of our local economies is forced to operate on an all-cash basis, which creates serious public safety, revenue administration and legal compliance concerns.” They added that “our members are committed to serving the financial needs of their communities—including those that have voted to legalize cannabis.” Read ABA’s letterRead the state bankers associations’ letter.

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