Donovan to House: SAFE Banking Act would bring legal certainty

September 23, 2019

As the House prepares to consider the CUNA-backed Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595) this week, CUNA Chief Advocacy Ryan Donovan reached out to all 435 House offices Monday detailing why the bill is needed. The SAFE Banking Act would provide legal protections to financial institutions that serve cannabis-based businesses in states where it is legal.

While CUNA takes no position on the legalization or decriminalization of cannabis, it has demonstrated through testimony, letters, meetings and other communications that the SAFE Banking Act would solve a significant public safety issue.

“The SAFE Banking Act would protect financial institutions and the communities they serve. It would make our communities safer, provide a safe harbor for financial institutions and ensure state-sanctioned businesses have access to mainstream financial systems,” Donovan wrote. “We’re calling on Congress to pass the bill and bring legal businesses out of the underground economy.”

A CUNA/League witness testified before the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee about the practical need for such a bill. Rachel Pross, chief risk officer at Maps CU, Salem, Ore., detailed how her credit union is able to take millions of dollars in cash off the streets while following rigorous screening and compliance procedures to appropriately monitor and maintain high-risk accounts.

“What we want are safe communities, clarity for credit unions, and financial options for law-abiding Americans,” Donovan wrote. “We need to get cash out of backpacks and shoeboxes, off the streets, and into secure, legal depositories.”

Donovan goes on to note that the legal uncertainty between state and federal laws dealing with cannabis must be resolved to protect financial institutions that deal with legal cannabis businesses even indirectly.