Senate Banking Chair Outlines Concerns with Cannabis Banking Asks for Input

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) has requested public feedback on ways to address public health and money laundering concerns relating to cannabis banking. He also requested input on “Operation Choke Point,” an Obama-era initiative in which federal agencies devised and relied upon a list of merchant categories such as firearm manufacturers, payday lenders, etc. with the intent of “choking off” them off from access to payment systems and banking services.

In a release issued last week, Crapo outlined a number of concerns he has with marijuana legalization and the House-passed Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking (SAFE) Act of 2019 (H.R. 1595) including public health considerations, the potential for criminal activity, and sound banking regulation and practices.

The House bill had 206 cosponsors including eight from New Jersey, Reps. Donald Norcross (D-1), Jeff Van Drew (D-2), Tom Malinowski (D-7), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9), Albio Sires (D-9), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-10), Mikie Sherrill (D-11) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).

The Senate SAFE Banking Act (S.1200) currently has 33 cosponsors including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Menendez has also introduced the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana, or CLAIM Act (S.2201) to address concerns of insurance providers.  

Eighteen state and two territorial governors added their names to a letter urging Congress to pass the legislation. Gov. Phil Murphy was among the twenty signatories on the letter sent to U.S. Senate and U.S. House leadership, and the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Service committees. 

NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, NJ Commissioner of Banking & Insurance Marlene Caride and NJ State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio have also added their names to colleague letters sent to Congress.

Medicinal marijuana is legal in New Jersey. While efforts to legalize recreational use stalled earlier this year, the legislature recently passed a measure to let voters decide through a referendum.

Gov. Murphy has been a vocal supporter of legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana.