Cannabis Banking: State Treasurers Ask Congress to Include SAFE Act in COVID-19 Relief Legislation

On Wednesday, July 8, 2020, a bipartisan group of sixteen state treasurers, led by Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read, sent a letter to congressional leaders requesting that the next piece of COVID-19 relief legislation include the SAFE Banking Act.

The letter prominently cites both the well-known and new safety issues that come into play when forcing so many to operate on a purely cash basis:

This provision would not only address new safety issues created by the COVID-19 crisis, but also those caused by the existing conflict between federal  and state cannabis laws. The 28,000 cannabis related legitimate businesses and their 243,700 employees, who already faced significant burdens before the pandemic, are now confronting dangerous new obstacles as they attempt to address the changed circumstances. To keep workers, patients and consumers safe, it is essential that we reduce the use of cash by creating access to financial services for these state-licensed businesses.

Those new obstacles include forcing cannabis businesses and users to continue engaging in all-cash transactions without the option of “no-contact exchanges” – which obviously gives cause for concern given CDC and WHO guidance that suggests the coronavirus can live on surfaces for extended periods of time.

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