The concept of removing the regulatory burdens in serving the hemp and marijuana industry (in states where that is legal) is gaining some traction in Congress, as a similar bill to what passed the House committee process was introduced in the Senate. CUNA wrote to Senators Merkely and Gardner in support of this bill, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019. If enacted, this legislation would permit credit unions in states where marijuana is legal to safely serve their members’ related needs. Readers of Creating Influence will recall that in March, CUNA wrote to Representatives Perlmutter, Heck, Stivers, and Davidson in similar support of the House version of SAFE prior to its passing the House Financial Services Committee.
While everyone has opinions on the decriminalization of medicinal or recreational cannabis, the fact of the matter is that credit unions operating in states where it is legal have members and member businesses involved in the cannabis market who need access to traditional depository and lending services, the absence of which creates a significant public safety issue. And this will include Georgia, as the state Legislature passed bills regarding the legal cultivation of not only hemp, but low-THC oil this session.
The SAFE Banking Act of 2019 would offer narrowly targeted federal protections for credit unions and other financial institutions accepting deposits, extending credit or providing payment services to an individual or business engaged in cannabis-related commerce in states where such activity is legal with a safe harbor, so long as they are compliant with all other applicable laws and regulations. Furthermore, the SAFE Banking Act provides safe harbor to credit unions and their employees who are not aware if their members or customers are involved in this business.