On Wednesday, September 25, the House passed H.R. 1595, the "Secure and Faire Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act," by a bipartisan vote of 321 - 103. This bill, cosponsored by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-OR) and Steve Stivers (R-OH), creates a safe harbor for federally-insured financial institutions to provide services to cannabis-related businesses in states that have legalized the substance.
Currently thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medicinal or recreational use, but it remains a Schedule-1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, legitimate cannabis businesses in states that have legalized the substance, or businesses that derive any income from them - including real estate - can't work with federally-insured financial institutions due to anti-money laundering laws. This means that many such businesses have to operate on a cash-only basis, which creates difficulty collecting taxes and enforcing regulations, as well as increases safety risks to the communities they are in. The SAFE Banking Act would create a safe harbor allowing financial institutions to work with legitimate cannabis businesses, thus resolving those issues.
NAR supports the rights of states and residents of those states to create laws aligned with state and resident interests. NAR supports allowing businesses that are properly registered and that are legitimate by state standards to have the ability to access banking services. NAR sent a letter of support for the SAFE Banking Act to the full House of Representatives ahead of the vote, urging them to pass it, and also joined a coalition letter which included the American Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association, as well as Scotts Miracle Grow. The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on this issue in July, and is expected to hold a markup of its companion bill, S. 1200 (cosponsored by Senators Cory Gardner, (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley, (D-OR)) before the end of the year.