A Senate committee held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss ways for cannabis businesses operating legally under state law to obtain access to banking and financial services. At the hearing, Senators and witnesses including members of the cannabis industry focused on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019.
Under the measure, federal banking regulators would be prohibited from penalizing banks that choose to serve cannabis firms doing business in accordance with state law. Under current regulations, banks are subject to penalties under federal money laundering and other laws for servicing such companies, leaving the cannabis industry to operate in a risky environment heavy in cash.
The Senate’s version of the measure, (S. 1200) was introduced in April by Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, and has 31 co-sponsors. The House bill (H.R. 1595) was introduced by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Oregon and is co-sponsored by 206 representatives. In March, the bill was approved by the Financial Services Committee and is expected to be considered on the House floor after the August recess.
Witnesses Testify at Hearing
In his testimony before the committee, Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, one of the co-sponsors of the SAFE Banking