May 19, 2022

NAFCU urges conference committee to include SAFE Banking Act in the America COMPETES Act

Capitol HillNAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler wrote to Congressional leaders ahead of the conference committee meeting for jobs and competitiveness legislation, sharing the association’s support for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to be included in the America COMPETES Act. 

Thaler noted that the passage of the SAFE Banking Act would allow Congress to provide greater clarity and legal certainty at the federal level for credit unions that choose to provide financial services to state-authorized marijuana-related business (MRBs) and ancillary businesses that may serve those businesses in states where such activity is legal.

“NAFCU has heard from a number of our member credit unions in these states that they are being approached by their members, or potential members, who have a small business in or are serving the legal cannabis industry in their state and are seeking banking services for their small business,” wrote Thaler. 

The majority of credit unions remain hesitant to provide financial services to members and their small businesses that participate in MRBs, considering that credit unions themselves are subject to additional regulatory challenges that “compound uncertainty of providing financial services to state-authorized MRBs. 

“It should be noted that these risks also exist when providing financial services to ancillary businesses that provide products and services to MRBs and fall within the credit union’s field of membership, even if the state-authorized MRB does not,” added Thaler.

While NAFCU does not, and is not taking, a position on the broader question of the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana at the federal or state level, the association does seek support from Congress in taking the steps outlined in the SAFE Banking Act to provide greater quality and legal certainty at the federal level for credit unions working with MRBs. 

Of note, a group of lawmakers led by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., wrote to congressional leaders earlier this month, backing the inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act in the America COMPETES Act pointing out that cannabis banking legislation has already passed the House six times at this point, including as a standalone bill that garnered “the support of more than three quarters of the chamber and a majority of the members of each party.”

Read the letter. NAFCU in 2021 updated its Marijuana Banking Issue Brief, where an update on the SAFE Banking Act is included. The association will continue to keep credit unions updated of legislative and regulatory changes that could impact their operating environment.