Maxine Waters Leads Weed Banking Bill Markup
Lawmakers will weed through legislation this week to allow banks to more easily work with legal cannabis businesses. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair of the Financial Services Committee, will lead a markup today for the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide a safe harbor for financial institutions to work with cannabis businesses that are operating in compliance with state laws. The legislation would protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes, and require the Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help credit unions and banks understand how to lawfully serve cannabis businesses. Currently, thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships. The ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis -- an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. The Committee and the full House are likely to pass the bill but don’t expect this legislation to become law. The GOP remains divided on the issue. And when the bill reaches the Republican-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will likely not allow a vote on any bill that divides the caucus. This is the first time that a bill addressing this issue has received a markup in a congressional committee, likely not the last. More here.