Hope springs anew for marijuana banking bill

(Nov. 20, 2020) After some fits and starts over the last 12 months, there are signs that marijuana banking legislation in the Senate may receive at least a hearing, and perhaps even go further than that.

Late last week, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and expected to be elected the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee when the new Congress organizes early next year (assuming the Republicans keep the majority) voiced his interest in seeing legislation move forward.

I am sympathetic to the idea that people who are involved in [the] cannabis industry — in an entirely legal fashion… ought to be able to have ordinary banking services,” he told reporters. He admitted that there are many details to work out, but he voiced some optimism for doing so.

In late 2019, current Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) – in the wake of House passage of legislation giving legal cannabis-related businesses access to financial institution services, among other things – held hearings on marijuana banking legislation. However, later in the year, Crapo said he would not support the legislation, citing concerns over the impact of the availability of marijuana on children and drug cartel use of banks.

NASCUS has consistently supported legislation that addresses the conflict between federal and state law on the provision of products and services for legitimate marijuana enterprises. The association supported the House’s Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595), which passed last year on a 321-103 bipartisan vote.

The bill – likely to be re-introduced in the next Congress, and a model for Senate action – would prohibit penalizing or discouraging a credit union or bank from providing financial services to a cannabis-related legitimate business or to a state (and its political subdivisions or Indian Tribe) that exercises jurisdiction over cannabis-related legitimate businesses.