CUNA backs SAFE Banking Act to allow financial services to legal cannabis biz

March 8, 2019

The absence of access to financial services for legal cannabis-based businesses is a significant public safety issue, CUNA wrote to Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). The legislators introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would offer protections to credit unions and other financial institutions to offer services to cannabis-based businesses.

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

Specifically, the SAFE Banking Act would:

  • Offer narrowly targeted federal protections for credit unions and other financial institutions accepting deposits, extending credit, or providing payment services to an individual or business engaged in cannabis related commerce in states where such activity is legal with a safe harbor, so long as they are compliant with all other applicable laws and regulations; and
  • Provides safe harbor to credit unions and their employees who are not aware if their members or customers are involved in this business.

CUNA takes no position on the morality or wisdom of legalizing or decriminalizing medicinal or recreational cannabis, but supports the ability of credit unions to offer financial services in states where it is legal.

Rachel Pross, chief risk officer at Maps CU, Salem, Ore., testified on CUNA’s behalf before a House Financial Services subcommittee in February, illustrating the need for access to such services, and demonstrating that unbanked cannabis businesses are a public safety issue.