The American Bankers Association this week wrote Congressional leaders to offer strong support for the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, a bill long championed by the association that would address the conflict between state law and federal law on cannabis banking. The bill, which has passed the House in several previous Congresses, was introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Reps. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D -Ore.).

Calling the bill an “urgently needed” measure, the ABA said it would help address important public safety concerns, given that most cannabis businesses are primarily cash-based, and would also allow regulators, tax collectors tax and law enforcement to monitor the industry more effectively. “Processing transactions through bank accounts instead of cash would ensure regulators and law enforcement have the necessary tools to identify bad guys and also improve tax collection and financial transparency in all thirty-seven states. where cannabis is now legal at the state level.”

The bill would also direct the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue guidance and vetting procedures for banks doing business with legal cannabis businesses. “Explicit and consistent direction from federal financial regulators will provide the necessary clarity for banks and help them better assess risks and supervisory expectations for cannabis-related clients,” the ABA said.

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