SAFE Banking Act would allow CUs to serve member needs

March 26, 2019

CUNA and the American Bankers Association wrote in support of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595) Tuesday prior to its markup by the House Financial Services Committee. The bill would permit depository institutions to serve the needs of members and customers in states where cannabis is legal.

“We would like to thank you and the members of the House Financial Services Committee for your efforts to work cooperatively to solve the practical problems caused by the disparate treatment of cannabis under federal and state laws,” the letter reads. “Although we do not take a position on the legalization of marijuana, our members are committed to serving the financial needs of their communities – including those that have voted to legalize cannabis.

“The current threat of criminal and civil liability under federal law is suppressing the provision of vital financial services in the thirty-three states that have legalized cannabis in some form,” it adds.

H.R. 1595 provides a mechanism for the cannabis industry and its service providers to deposit cash in regulated financial institutions, allowing CUNA members to meet the needs of their communities and help those communities.

The letter notes that “without congressional action, a significant portion of economic activity, including those businesses with only indirect connections to the cannabis industry, such as vendors, suppliers and utility companies, risk being marginalized from the financial system in states with legal cannabis  industries.”

Rachel Pross, chief risk officer at Maps CU, Salem, Ore., testified on CUNA’s behalf in support of H.R. 1595 in February. Pross said serving legal cannabis businesses was a public safety issue, and through Maps CU’s efforts, more than $500 million in cash has been removed from its community’s streets over the past two years.

“That’s $500 million removed from Oregon’s sidewalks that used to be carried around in backpacks and shoeboxes by legitimate, legal business owners,” she told the committee.