Bill would allow cannabis businesses to access banks, credit cards and improve public safety
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a bill that would allow legally-operating cannabis businesses to access critical banking services – including bank accounts, credit cards, and checks – without fear of retribution by federal regulators.
Currently, most state legal cannabis businesses are denied access to the banking system because banks fear they might be prosecuted under federal law, where cannabis is still illegal. As a result, most legal cannabis businesses have to operate in all-cash, which has led to ongoing threats of robbery and assault for business owners and employees. In 2021, burglary or attempted burglary accounted for 92% of marijuana industry-related offenses in Denver.
“Colorado’s cannabis industry is American innovation at its best, but operating in all-cash is stifling its potential and making small businesses a target for crime,” said Hickenlooper.“It’s time for the federal government to catch up to Colorado.”
“Today, cannabis businesses in Colorado must operate on a cash basis, which creates unnecessary risks for their employees and customers, as well as burdensome compliance and oversight challenges. The SAFE Banking Act is a common-sense approach to bring our laws into the 21st century and make it easier for legal cannabis businesses to access our banking system, including small and minority-owned banks, the same way any other business can,” said Bennet.
In addition to enhancing public safety, giving legal cannabis businesses access to banking services would make it easier for communities of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, to access capital to participate in the growing cannabis industry. The bill extends protections to Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions, who focus on serving marginalized communities.
The SAFE Banking Act has now passed the House six times. The bill has yet to be taken up in the Senate despite broad bipartisan support.
Full text of the bill is available HERE.