Marijuana Banking Bill Scheduled for HFSC Mark-up as Legalization Advances in NJ

The House Financial Services Committee next week will hold a full committee mark-up on a bill designed to provide a safe harbor for credit unions and other financial services providers that serve marijuana-related businesses in states that have legalized the drug. The mark-up is scheduled for Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.

The SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1595) was introduced by House Financial Services Committee members Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Denny Heck (D-Wash.) after the committee held the first-ever congressional hearing on the issue in February. There are currently more than 138 cosponsors to the legislation including three from New Jersey, Reps Bill Pascrell (D-9), Albio Sires (D-8) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).

Serving marijuana-related businesses poses significant compliance and potential legal risks for credit unions and other financial services providers. While CUNA and the NJCUL have not taken a position on the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, the associations support Congress examining what steps can be taken to bring cannabusinesses into the traditional and regulated financial services system.

In a related development, state legislation to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana is moving forward in New Jersey. Legalization bills (A4497; S2703) received final committee approvals in the Senate and Assembly earlier this week and have been scheduled for Monday floor votes in both chambers. Gov. Phil Murphy, a vocal proponent of legalization, has indicated he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. 

New Jersey legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2010.