Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

On Monday, April 19, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1996, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, by a bipartisan vote of 321–101. Cosponsored by Representatives Perlmutter (D-CO), Stivers (R-OH), Velazquez (D-NY), and Davidson (R-OH), the bill provides a clear framework for cannabis businesses—or businesses that work with them—access to federally-insured financial institutions in states that have legalized cannabis.

Currently, cannabis businesses cannot legally bank with federally-insured financial institutions as it is still a federally-controlled substance.  As more states legalize cannabis use—currently 36 states and four territories have legalized it for medicinal or recreational use—the industry is rapidly growing, with more than $10 billion in sales and $1 billion in state tax revenue already recorded. Denying these businesses and the businesses that provide them with goods and services, including real estate professionals and property managers with cannabis business clients, access to national banks presents significant challenges both to the businesses and the communities they are in. In many areas, these businesses are all-cash, which presents safety issues and makes it difficult to track earnings and pay taxes. Technically, businesses that are paid by such businesses—such as property managers, transport, and the owners of properties that are leased to the businesses—are also barred from holding those proceeds in federally-insured banks as well.

The SAFE Banking Act creates a carve-out to allow such businesses access to national FDIC-insured banks, which, in addition to addressing the problems already covered, makes it easier for them to track the growth of this industry and enforce anti-money laundering requirements.

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 to the cosponsors of this bill ahead of its passage, thanking them for introducing this important legislation, and will now turn to advocating for its passage in the Senate.  

Read NAR's Letter of Support for the SAFE Banking Act