More Than 20 AGs Send Letter to Congressional Leadership Urging Passage of SAFER Banking Act

Fri, Sep 29
Key Points
  • A group of over 20 attorneys general have sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act.
  • The attorneys general argue that current federal law inhibits the ability of banks to provide services to regulated cannabis businesses, creating barriers to entry and instability.
  • They highlight that the lack of access to banking services poses a risk of violent crime and robberies targeting cannabis businesses.
  • The attorneys general believe that the passage of the bill will create a responsive and effective banking system for the legalized cannabis industry.

A bipartisan group of more than 20 attorneys general on Tuesday sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Wednesday. 

In the letter, the attorneys general note that current federal law, which classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, presents “a risk of criminal and civil liability to banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis dispensaries and related businesses” which significantly inhibits “the ability of financial institutions to provide services to regulated cannabis operators and leaves those businesses struggling to find financing.” 

“The lack of access to banking services creates both barriers to entry into the industry and instability for existing businesses. Recently, Mastercard announced that it will no longer allow its cardholders to use their bank cards to purchase cannabis, cutting off a key revenue stream and making it harder for customers and businesses alike,” the letter states. “Further, where the public perceives that regulated businesses can only conduct business in cash, employees and customers are at greater risk of violent crime in pursuit of that cash. Several jurisdictions have seen a spike in robberies of cannabis businesses, some of which have resulted in deaths.” 

The signatories add that passage of the law “will enable the evolution of a banking system for legalized cannabis-related businesses that is both responsive and effective in meeting the demands of our economy.” 

The letter is signed by the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state, and Washington, D.C.