September 21, 2023

Senators introduce NAFCU-supported bill for marijuana banking

US Capitol buildingA bipartisan group of senators introduced a revised version of legislation to provide greater clarity and legal certainty at the federal level for financial institutions to provide services to marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) in states that have legalized marijuana.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act is similar to the SAFE Banking Act, but includes additional provisions for federal banking regulators “to ensure that banks and credit unions are operating in a safe and sound manner, including having processes and procedures to identify fraudulent or illegal activity.”

The Senate Banking Committee is expected to markup the bill next week. It was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., with several cosponsors including Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

NAFCU has consistently called on lawmakers to provide credit unions with legal clarity and certainty for serving MRBs, noting that credit unions have been “hesitant to provide financial services to these members and their small businesses” given marijuana’s Schedule I classification. The association does not have and will not take a position on the broader question of marijuana legalization or decriminalization.

“The SAFER Banking Act would resolve these issues by providing a safe harbor for banks, credit unions, other financial institutions, and payment processors that provide services to these State-sanctioned businesses, allowing them to operate in the financial mainstream,” a release on the SAFER Banking Act explains. “By shifting these businesses and their employees away from cash-reliant businesses and into the financial mainstream, this bill helps to promote public safety for the communities in which these businesses operate.”

NAFCU will continue to monitor these discussions and advocate for this bipartisan legislation.