Washington, D.C. (Sept. 27, 2023) — The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) today commended the Senate Banking Committee for its passage of the SAFER Banking Act (S. 2860), bipartisan legislation that would establish a safe harbor from federal sanctions for financial institutions that serve cannabis-related businesses in states where cannabis is legal.
“The conflict between state and federal law has created legal uncertainty for community banks, inhibited access to the banking system for legal cannabis-related businesses, and created serious public safety concerns,” ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said. “As the first national banking trade group to support cannabis-banking legislation and to testify before Congress on its behalf, ICBA commends the Senate Banking Committee for advancing this important measure and calls on Congress to fully pass it to enhance public safety and address regulatory compliance concerns."
Introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act would enhance public safety and address regulatory compliance concerns by opening the traditional banking system to cannabis-related businesses. Similar legislation has passed the House seven times.
ICBA has strongly supported the legislation for years because legal uncertainty has forced cannabis-related businesses to operate mostly in cash, which presents a significant public safety risk. The SAFER Banking Act would help eliminate this risk in states that have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. In these states, federal banking regulators would not be permitted to threaten or limit a bank’s deposit insurance, downgrade a loan, prohibit or discourage the provision of banking services, or take any other prejudicial action on banks solely for serving a cannabis-related business.
An ICBA poll conducted by Morning Consult last year found broad bipartisan support for the legislation, with 65% of voters supporting the policy, 71% of agreeing it would reduce the risk of robbery and assault at cannabis-related businesses, and 55% saying it would support underserved communities. More information on ICBA’s support for a cannabis banking safe harbor is available on its website.
The Independent Community Bankers of America® creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. ICBA is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services.
With nearly 50,000 locations nationwide, community banks constitute roughly 99 percent of all banks, employ nearly 700,000 Americans and are the only physical banking presence in one in three U.S. counties. Holding nearly $5.9 trillion in assets, over $4.9 trillion in deposits, and more than $3.5 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community, community banks channel local deposits into the Main Streets and neighborhoods they serve, spurring job creation, fostering innovation and fueling their customers’ dreams in communities throughout America. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.