US Senate Committee Schedules Vote for Bill Allowing Banks to Service Marijuana Businesses

On September 27 the Senate Banking Committee will vote on legislation that would allow banks to provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under their state’s law.

The SAFE Banking Act has received bipartisan support and has been listed as a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. After months of negotiations the measure will finally receive a vote in the Senate Banking Committee, with proponents of the measure confident that it has the 60 votes needed to be passed out of the Senate and sent to the US House of Representatives.

The measure would have a wide-reaching impact on the growing marijuana industry. Because marijuana is federally illegal, state-licensed marijuana stores are required to operate entirely cash-only, a clear security risk. The SAFE Banking Act would explicitly give these businesses access to banking and financial services, including bank loans.

Although hundreds of financial institutes, particularly credit unions, do provide services to state-legal marijuana businesses, most major banks have refused to do so out of fear of federal repercussions.

Hundreds of institutions including state-chartered banks and credit unions do serve the industry. The SAFE banking legislation could allow bigger institutions to get more comfortable with it.

When the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives a similar measure was passed by the full chamber, including with the support of now House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, giving advocates optimism that if the SAFE Banking Act passes the Senate, it will also pass the House.

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