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Senate Committee Passes Cannabis Banking Bill

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Sep 28, 2023

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs voted to advance banking legislation that would allow cannabis businesses to access regular banking services, Reuters and other news outlets reported.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act (SAFER) bill, introduced by a bipartisan group of senators last week, will now move to the Senate floor.

The vote came weeks after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that cannabis should be classified as a lower-risk drug under the Controlled Substances Act. The announcement prompted Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), chair of the committee, to tell reporters that an agreement on cannabis banking legislation is “imminent."

An earlier version of this legislation, the SAFE Banking Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives many times since it was introduced in 2013, most recently in 2021. If signed into law, it would have protected federally chartered financial institutions from incurring penalties for servicing legitimate cannabis businesses. (For more on this topic, see “With NYS dispensaries set to open soon, CPAs see opportunities and hurdles” in The Trusted Professional’s November/December 2022 issue, page 1).  

Cannabis is a multibillion-dollar industry in the 38 states that allow it for medical use and in the 23 states and three U.S. territories, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized its recreational use.

“Cannabis policies look different in different states, but legal cannabis small businesses and their employees are running into many of the same issues. One of these issues is access to financial services,” Brown said in a statement. “Regardless of how you feel about states’ efforts to legalize marijuana, this bipartisan bill is necessary – it will make it safer for legal cannabis businesses and service providers to operate in their communities and protect their workers.”

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