More than 1300 cannabis business owners, executives, and employees co-signed a letter to Sen. Mike Crapo urging him to support the SAFE Banking Act and hold a markup in the Senate Banking Committee
WASHINGTON — A group of more than 1300 businesses and individuals involved in the state-regulated cannabis industry sent a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and key lawmakers with banking oversight urging him to hold a markup on the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act and support the legislation as approved in the House last year. The bill would provide safe harbor for financial institutions to work with regulated cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state laws, addressing a number of public safety concerns and lack of access to capital for small businesses created by current federal restrictions. It currently has 33 cosponsors in the Senate, including five Republicans.
The House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act by a vote of 321-103 in September, with 91 Republicans voting in favor. Chairman Crapo said he intended to have the bill considered in his committee, but also expressed concerns about the bill and other aspects of cannabis policy not related to banking. Those concerns were reflected in a memo he released in December that outlined proposed changes to the bill and requested public comment to inform his decision-making.
“We are entrepreneurs who work in the cannabis industry or work in industries that support the cannabis industry,” the letter reads. “And we are writing because of the crucial importance of the passage of a bill that works for the small businesses that are helping this industry flourish in 33 states. We know from our personal experiences, and those of our customers, suppliers, and employees, that the SAFE Banking Act as passed by the House of Representatives is the right approach to secure banking and payment processing services. This is not a partisan issue, or a regional issue. We are a bipartisan group, with operations spread across the United States. The ranks of impacted entrepreneurs is only growing.”
The signatories point out that some of Chairman Crapo’s proposed changes to the SAFE Banking Act would undermine its goal of improving public safety. The letter also highlights the more than 200,000 people employed in the legal cannabis industry that are impacted by lack of access to financial services.
“Without banking services, U.S. businesses will continue to operate in a cash environment that endangers employees and the public,” the letter continues. “Every day that we wait is another day that our employees and the members of the public who patronize our businesses are at risk of robbery and assault because we operate in an all cash environment. In short, the SAFE Banking Act is a referendum on public safety for our small businesses. We are merely asking that you facilitate the availability of financial services to the hemp and state-legal cannabis industry in order to improve public safety, allow states and the federal government to easily track and collect tax revenue, and assist the state-legal industry to displace an illicit market that is currently operating free from any regulatory oversight.”
“We urge you to work with the state-regulated cannabis industry, the financial services sector, and other interested stakeholders on a solution that supports, rather than hinders, this burgeoning industry and the will of the American public.”
A coalition of more than 30 national and state industry organizations sent a letter in January calling for passage of the House bill. The bipartisan House sponsors of the SAFE Banking Act and members of the banking industry have also reached out to Sen. Crapo this year urging him to focus on the narrowly tailored intent of the bill.