SAFE Banking Act Reintroduced in House of Representatives

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WASHINGTON D.C. – The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. If enacted, the bill would create protections for banks and insurers providing financial services to cannabis-related businesses.

H.R. 1595, the SAFE Banking Act, first was introduced in Congress on March 7, 2019 by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) with more than one hundred other original cosponsors. The bill has since been approved by the House three times with the most recent approval in September 2019.


The bill’s sponsors voiced support for today’s reintroduction.

“I’m excited we’re reintroducing SAFE Banking, again with bipartisan support,” said Representative Davidson. “This bill is an important hedge against financial cancellation, and it will protect businesses and industries that find themselves out of favor with the latest trends of the day. Today we’re talking about banking cannabis, hemp, and firearms, but tomorrow there could be another industry that has its access to the banking system threatened by statute or by public opinion. With SAFE Banking, as long as its legal in the jurisdiction, no bank should be compelled to cancel their customers by a mob saying, ‘You aren’t going to bank THOSE people are you?’ Sadly, that has already happened too often in American history and it must end.”

“The cannabis industry has been operating with great success, with many of these businesses deemed essential as the coronavirus pandemic took hold,” added Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), who co-sponsored the reintroduced legislation. “However, without the ability to safely utilize the banking system, cannabis-related businesses are left behind and stuck resorting to tactics that can threaten public safety and economic success. That’s why I am proud to join to Reps. Perlmutter, Stivers, and Davidson in introducing the SAFE Banking Act, to allow these business in states that have legalized cannabis to access to the banking system, just as any other business currently enjoys. Doing so will help create jobs in communities throughout America, while stimulating the economy as we recover from the fallout of the pandemic.”

The SAFE Banking Act advanced to the Senate in September 2019 but was delayed in early 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“At a time when small businesses need all the support they can get, and after cannabis businesses specifically have been providing essential services and generating significant tax revenues for states and the federal government with little to no financial relief, it is more imperative than ever to get the SAFE Banking Act passed into law,” said National Cannabis Industry Association Chief Executive Officer Aaron Smith. “Lack of access to banking services continues to create serious unnecessary issues for public safety, transparency, and access to traditional lending that smaller operators desperately need. These businesses are contributing billions of dollars to the national economy every year and need to be treated like any other legal regulated industry.”

The reintroduced bipartisan bill also drew support from the financial industry.

In a letter to the House, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Nussle wrote, “Credit unions exist to serve the financial services needs of their members, but the disparate treatment of production, distribution, sale, and use of cannabis under federal law and some state laws has discouraged them from providing services to businesses throughout the supply chain in states where cannabis is legal. In recent years, as various states have legalized cannabis for medicinal and recreational use, participants in the market have sought out credit unions to provide safe and affordable financial services.

“CUNA takes no position on legalizing or decriminalizing medicinal or recreational cannabis at either the state or federal level. However, credit unions operating in states where it is legal have members and member businesses involved in the cannabis market who need access to traditional depository and lending services, the absence of which creates a significant public safety issue.

“Many credit unions operate in states where their voters or legislatures have made cannabis legal in one form or another,” Nussle continued. “Therefore, CUNA believes that financial institutions should be permitted to lawfully serve businesses that engage in activities authorized under their state laws, even when such activity may be inconsistent with federal law.”

For a breakdown of the SAFE Banking Act, read Wilson Elser attorneys Ian Stewart and Ruben Espinosa’s exclusive in-depth coverage.