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Senate Committee to Markup Cannabis Banking Legislation Tomorrow

Industry leaders and advocates stress urgent need for bi-partisan SAFER Banking Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 27, 2023 ( Newswire) The Senate Banking Committee will be marking up the Safe and Secure Enforcement and Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act during its executive session tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. EST. The legislation, introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), would allow financial institutions to do business with the legal cannabis industry without fear of running afoul of federal banking regulations.

The legislation, S. 2860, enjoys broad bipartisan support and has passed the House seven times in previous congressional sessions but has never been taken up for a vote in the Senate. Advocates are hopeful that the Banking Committee will release the bill to a floor vote tomorrow.

The SAFER Banking Act (formerly known as "SAFE Banking Act") is narrowly-crafted legislation that would allow the cannabis industry to access financial services currently not available or not reliably accessible without steep bank fees. Current banking regulations force cannabis businesses to operate in a very cash-heavy environment as they are unable to process credit cards and sometimes even unable to access depository services. The situation has led to numerous robberies and violent crimes targeting cannabis retail facilities and industry employees.

The bill would also open the door to greater business lending in the industry, providing access to capital that advocates say is sorely needed by small and independently-owned cannabis businesses.

"The vast majority of Americans now live in a state that is effectively regulating legal medical or adult-use cannabis sales but federal banking regulations are exposing millions to an unnecessary and completely avoidable risk of violent crime," said National Cannabis Industry Association CEO, Aaron Smith. "On behalf of the tens of thousands of small businesses struggling under these outdated federal banking regulations, we commend Chairman Brown and the committee for taking up this important issue and urge them to move the SAFER Banking Act to a full Senate vote without further delay."

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration made an official recommendation to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III status in the federal Controlled Substances Act but that change would not affect the current banking situation for the industry.

The SAFER Banking Act is endorsed by the National Conference of State Legislators, National Association of Attorneys General, National Association of State Treasurers, the American Bankers Association, Credit Union National Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, the NAACP, Americans for Prosperity, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and a bipartisan group of 20 state governors.

Laws to make cannabis legal for adults have passed in 23 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 38 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. Three in four Americans live in a state where cannabis is legal in some form.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only national organization representing small and independent cannabis-related businesses. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible, sustainable, and inclusive cannabis industry and works for a favorable social, economic, and regulatory environment for that industry throughout the United States.

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