Senators introduce bipartisan cannabis banking legislation

September 20, 2023

A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act Wednesday, which would provide a safe harbor for financial institutions serving legal cannabis businesses. CUNA wrote bill sponsors in support Wednesday.

“This important legislation will bring consistency and common sense to federal law in the area of banking regulation where it intersects with the country’s legal cannabis businesses,” the letter reads. “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.”

The SAFER 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.

It also provides a safe harbor to credit unions and employees who are not aware if their members or customers are involved in cannabis businesses.

Co-sponsors of the bill include Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J.