Washington DC – Momentum for bipartisan cannabis reform continues to build as Congress gets closer to passing legislation that would allow legally operating cannabis companies to access financial markets and basic banking services. According to a recent CBS poll, support for cannabis reform has reached an all-time high, with 65 percent of respondents supporting legal cannabis use, up from 59 percent last year.
“It is incumbent on Congress to resolve the conflict between state cannabis programs and federal statutes that effectively create unnecessary risk for banks seeking to operate in this space,” wrote the top financial regulators from 24 states and U.S. territories in a letter to House and Senate Leadership. “The looming threat of civil actions, forfeiture of assets, reputational risk, and criminal penalties is not conducive to a legal, regulated marketplace.”
“The ability for a bank to serve legitimate state licensed businesses should be a business decision determined by the bank and its leadership, in accordance with safety and soundness guidelines. Congressional action is necessary to eliminate the barriers that exist today. This is not about advocacy for legalization. It is about providing a solution so that state chartered institutions can have clear guidance about how to serve the industry without violating federal laws. Marijuana licensed businesses need access to the banking system for public safety and for the integrity of financial markets,” said Robin L. Wiessmann, Pennsylvania Secretary of Banking and Securities. Wiessmann led a similar letter last year that included 13 signatures from state financial regulators.
“It’s time for Congress to acknowledge that the transition to regulated cannabis in the United States is inevitable,” said Terry Holt, spokesman for the National Cannabis Roundtable. “The U.S. needs a rational framework for states and territories to regulate and manage their own cannabis policies.”
The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act currently has 166 cosponsors in the House and recently passed out of House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 45 to 15. Parallel legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) along with 22 cosponsors.
The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act was introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the Senate and Congressmen Earl Blumenauer Joyce (D-OR) and David Joyce (R-OH) in the House.