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State financial regulators tell Congress to pass marijuana banking protections in manufacturing bill

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An organization representing state financial regulators from across the United States is lobbying Congress to pass marijuana banking reform as part of a large-scale industrialization bill that is currently being finalized in a two-chamber conference committee.

The chair of the Conference of State Banking Supervisors (CSBS) sent letters to Senate and House leaders, as well as America COMPETES participants, on Wednesday, calling for the inclusion of language that would protect banks that work with state legal cannabis companies. .

“By granting safe haven to financial institutions, Congress can bring regulatory clarity to the financial services sector, address public safety concerns and ensure access to financial services for state-compliant marijuana and marijuana-related businesses,” said James Cooper, acting president of CSBS.

“I also call for the safe haven to be expanded to include all financial services, including money transfer, as the negative impact of current conflicts in state and federal law is not limited to depository institutions,” He said.

Most states have now legalized cannabis in some form, Cooper said, but “due to the legal and regulatory risks associated with conflicting federal and state laws, many financial institutions remain reluctant to do business with cannabis-related businesses.”

As a result, federal law prohibits cannabis-related businesses from accessing financial services such as bank deposits, loans, money transfers, and accepting credit cards for payment. This leaves marijuana businesses — legal under state law — operating largely as cash-only operations. In recent weeks, we’ve seen an increase in violent crime in cannabis businesses as criminals know these businesses keep large amounts of cash on hand.”

What CSBS and other financial societies are pushing for is that bicameral negotiators agree to put the provisions of the bipartisan Safe Banking and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act in the final package of the manufacturing bill that is delivered to the president’s office. The House included it in its version, but the Senate removed the language.

“The enactment of the SAFE Banking Act will also support economic development in states that have legalized cannabis, while promoting safety for industry employees and the public alike,” the new letter states. Tax collection, consumers, and the financial system will remain at risk until financial institutions can serve the industry without worrying about violating federal law. Clarity between state and federal law is needed to allow state-compliant cannabis companies to access financial services without the risk of federal punishment.”

In short, state bank regulators support retaining the SAFE Banking Act as part of the America COMPETES Conference Report. In addition, we encourage the Senate to provide a safe haven for senders of money to protect all industry participants by allowing them to use secure, regulated and verifiable financial services. State bank regulators look forward to working with you to pass this important legislation.”

Banking associations representing all 50 states and one US territory as well Sent a letter to Senate leaders late last month which made similar points about the importance of enacting the SAFE Act for banking.

Last week, a coalition of cannabis regulators representing 40 US states and territories Explained separately to Congress What it means for the current lack of access to traditional financial services — not just for the companies and programs they oversee, but for regulators navigating this federal state struggle themselves.

The Nonpartisan Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA), which does not take a position on legalization per se, has sent a letter to congressional leaders outlining areas of interest for marijuana markets in their states under the status quo of a federal ban.

Another group of marijuana regulators, the Color Alliance cannabis regulators, have separately Weighing on the cannabis banking puzzle, and argued in an editorial titled “The Marijuana Moment” that the Safe Banking Services Act (SAFE) alone will not provide enough help for small businesses. The group says advocates should push for provisions to be added to the bill providing temporary guarantees to community-based financial deposit institutions (CFDIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), as well as measures to prevent predatory lending and enhance the availability of loans for people from disadvantaged communities.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), an associate member of America COMPETES, recently He said he feels “enormous momentum” To accomplish the mission of a marijuana bank through their negotiations.

“We have a vehicle that needs action relatively soon. There is broad support for it,” said Co-Chairman of Congress Cannabis, who Led a letter to the leadership late last month Which stressed the need to activate banking reform. “I think there’s tremendous momentum.”

Conference Committee Held its first meeting on the law of competition in America Earlier this month, with several specific participants urging the authority to attach the language of the Safe Banking Act (SAFE) in the interests of economic competitiveness and public safety.

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee and Banking marijuana previously listed as a legislative priority Before the convention, he said the partisan nature of the reform proposal was “obvious” based on the fact that the House included it in the Chamber’s version of the manufacturing bill before it was removed in the Senate.

In addition, nearly a quarter of all senators Send a bipartisan letter this month urging bank cannabis to be included in the final bill.

The third-highest Democratic senator, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Pay special attention to the reform of the marijuana bankShe described it as one of her priorities as an appointed member of the conference’s bicameral committee.

Although it has consistently passed through the House of Representatives, the Senate has been reluctant to move forward with this measure under Democratic and Republican control. The current leadership of the Senate insisted that comprehensive legalization legislation be passed first before the cannabis bank bill.

A top aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is finalizing his own legislation bill, recently tempered expectations about Possibilities of Transferring Marijuana Banking Through the America COMPETES Act.

When asked by Marijuana Moment if there were any specific equity-focused policies that he had discussed to add to the SAFE Banking Act with Senate leadership, Blumenauer said he “would prefer not to go into” discussions he might have had with his fellow Senate members, and He put the onus on the opposite chamber to propose any specific changes that would make the legislation more palatable to them.

“They have an opportunity to move forward, and I welcome those efforts,” he said. “I am very willing to work with them as long as I can as long as it does not get in the way of resolving this matter.”

The Senate’s independent version of the SAFE Banking Act currently has 42 participants, including nine Republicans.

This hesitation on the Senate’s part was also Message Subject Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), the sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, sent to leadership last month.

In an earlier statement to Marijuana Moment, Perlmutter noted that “more than two-thirds of respondents have already voted for or co-sponsored the SAFE Banking Act.”

Even the congressman made a point to talk about the enactment of reform legislation During committee hearings on ostensibly unrelated or broader legislationas in a recent hearing of the House Rules Committee.

Although recently Saying he was “confident” that the Senate would consider his bill At this hearing, Perlmutter realized that while he supports reviews on criminal justice reform, taxation, research and other issues, he knows that “as we expand this thing, we start losing votes, especially Republican votes and we’ve got enough votes in the Senate to do that.” As is.

Meanwhile, the governor, attorney general and other senior officials of the state of Washington Sent a letter to congressional leaders Earlier this month, he again emphasized the urgent need to pass marijuana banking reform as a public safety imperative.

Separately, Washington state officials too Recently held a virtual round table To address the spate of deadly thefts targeting marijuana retailers, with regulators repeating their call for a change in federal policy and discussing steps the state can take on its own while Congress fails to act.

The Washington State Treasurer has been particularly vocal about the need to reform Congress, which He wrote in a recent letter to his colleagues In other countries, “it’s not safe to have that much cash.”

He made similar statements in a Recent Conference of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NAST). Colorado Treasurer Dave Young He echoed this sentiment in a recent interview With a marijuana moment.

In the absence of congressional action, more states are moving to enact marijuana banking reform policies on their own. For example, Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced a bill accompanying a measure passed by the Senate late last month that would Providing banking protection and tax breaks for marijuana businesses.

Meanwhile, how many banks report doing business with marijuana companies It was uploaded again towards the end of 2021according to recently released federal data.

It’s not clear if the increase is related to Congress’ moves to pass a bipartisan cannabis banking reform bill, but numbers from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) suggest that financial institutions still feel more comfortable serving companies in the state’s legal markets.

Some Republicans are scratching their heads over the Democrats’ failure so far to pass modest banking reform with majorities in both houses and control of the White House as well. For example, Representative Rand Paul (Republic of Kentucky) He criticized fellow Democrats on the issue in December.

Read CSBS message To congressional leaders on marijuana banking and the America Competition Act below:

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