CUNA/League-backed SAFE Banking Act Passes House Financial Services Committee

The House Financial Services Committee passed the CUNA-supported Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595) Thursday by a bipartisan vote of 45-15. The bill would provide a safe harbor for financial institutions serving legal cannabis-related businesses.

“We thank the House Financial Services Committee for advancing the SAFE Banking Act, and for taking the time to hear from credit union and other witnesses during its consideration of the bill,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. “Regardless of one’s feeling of legalization or decriminalization of cannabis, CUNA and others have demonstrated that the current status quo for these businesses is a public safety concern and will remain so if these businesses cannot access mainstream financial services.”

Specifically, H.R. 1595 would:

  • Offer narrowly targeted federal protections for credit unions and other financial institutions accepting deposits, extending credit, or providing payment services to an individual or business engaged in cannabis related commerce in states where such activity is legal with a safe harbor, so long as they are compliant with all other applicable laws and regulations; and
  • Provides safe harbor to credit unions and their employees who are not aware if their members or customers are involved in this business.

CUNA witness Rachel Pross, chief risk officer at Maps CU, Salem, Ore., testified before the House Financial Services sub-committee on consumer protection and financial institutions in February about the importance of allowing these legal businesses to access financial services.

That hearing featured several stories from sub-committee members about cannabis businesses and personnel being targeted because of the presence of large amounts of cash. 

The SAFE Banking Act enjoys broad, bipartisan support with cosponsors now numbering 152 including four New Jersey delegation members: Reps Bill Pascrell. Jr. (D-9), Mikie Sherrill (D-11), Albio Sires (D-8), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).

While final passage of state legislation (A4497S2703) to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana here in New Jersey stalled earlier this week, the SAFE Banking Act is still important to New Jersey credit unions and banks because the state legalized medicinal marijuana in 2010.