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Major Trade Groups Urge Senate Committee To Pass Marijuana Banking Bill

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More than a dozen major trade groups and advocacy organizations sent a letter to the chair of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, asking that he advance a bill protecting financial institutions that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators.

Signatories include the American Bankers Association, Americans for Prosperity, Credit Union National Association, National Association of REALTORS, National Conference of State Legislatures and Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association.

Currently, a bill that would resolve the banking issue is sitting in Chairman Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) committee. He’s floated a series of changes to the House-passed Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, however, including some that industry stakeholders view as unworkable.

“Our organizations continue to support SAFE because it is an initial legislative step that allows the legal cannabis industry into the banking system—ultimately protecting law-abiding financial institutions and ancillary services businesses from their untenable position and addressing increasing public safety concerns,” the letter, which was also signed by Brinks Company, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers and International Council of Shopping Centers, says.

They added the passage of the SAFE Banking Act last year is evidence of the “proven bipartisan support for the issue.”

The groups also said that without such legislation, hemp and CBD businesses will continue to struggle to access financial services due to the “inextricable link between hemp and cannabis.”

“To resolve this, we urge you to immediately proceed with the Committee’s consideration of SAFE Banking Act or similar measures. Such measures will create a safe harbor for depository institutions and ancillary services providers that offer a financial product or service to businesses in a state permitting the use of cannabis. A safe harbor will enable law enforcement and states to effectively monitor and regulate businesses while simultaneously bringing billions into the regulated banking sector.”

Other groups signing the letter include Electronic Transactions Association, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, National Association of Professional Employer Associations and R Street.

Crapo received several similar letters in recent weeks. Just last week, banking associations from 49 states and Puerto Rico reached out and called for the passage of legislation to resolve the issue.

While advocates remain wary of the proposed revisions that the chairman has pitched, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) recently indicated that compromises were being made. He said last month that lawmakers are “close” to reaching a deal on the legislation and that they are “working through some of the objectives Sen. Crapo has in terms of safety, research and guidance.”

“We appreciate your dedication to ensuring that the bill adequately addresses public health and money laundering concerns with cannabis banking,” the organizations wrote in the new letter. “However, with more than two-thirds of the states have approved some form of legal cannabis, Congress must intervene to address the apparent conflict between federal and state law.”

The head of the Treasury Department has made clear that it will be up to Congress to act, saying last week that reforming the banking situation cannot be handled through administrative action.

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