Once again, the Senate appears to be punting on much-needed banking and insurance reform for the cannabis industry. The SAFE Banking Act would allow banks and insurance companies to offer their services to marijuana-related businesses without violating federal law. As we discussed here, it’s had solid support in the House—a standalone bill passed the House with bipartisan support last year and the text of the bill was included in the House’s proposed stimulus package in May 2020.
But the Senate has been a different story. The standalone bill continues to stagnate in the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate’s latest round of coronavirus legislation released this week does not include the text of the SAFE Banking Act or any other protections for the cannabis industry. While not unexpected, this move is another blow to proponents of cannabis banking reform.
While it is still possible the Senate agrees to add the SAFE Banking Act language to a merged relief bill during bicameral negotiations, we believe that is unlikely. Rep. Lou Correa’s (D-CA) assessment from May still seems prescient. “I think it’s sure to die in the Senate,” said Rep. Correa. “Mr. McConnell has said, in many words and many ways, ‘I’m not interested in moving any legislation of this sort forward.’”
We will continue to report on cannabis banking legislation and other events affecting the industry on our blog. Also, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for up-to-date information to help you stay informed of the legal issues related to COVID-19.