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Cannabis Legislation Builds Momentum in Wake of Big ‘I’ Legislative Conference

A bipartisan group of 24 senators sent a letter supporting inclusion of the “Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act" in the final conferenced American Competitiveness, Jobs and Innovation package.
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cannabis legislation builds momentum in wake of big ‘i’ legislative conference

Last week, a bipartisan group of 24 Senators sent a letter to congressional leadership in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate urging Congress to include the “Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act" in the final conferenced American Competitiveness, Jobs and Innovation package.

This letter of support comes hot on the heels of the 2022 Big “I" Legislative Conference where independent insurance agents and brokers from all over the country met with their respective members of Congress to voice their support for the SAFE Banking Act, among other important issues.

The cannabis-related legislation had previously passed the House as part of the “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022," also known as the “America COMPETES Act of 2022." However, the provision was not included in similar legislation that passed the Senate. The differences in the two pieces of legislation must now be reconciled in a conference committee made up of a bipartisan group from the House and Senate.

The SAFE Banking Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) in the House and Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Steve Daines (R-Montana) in the Senate, would reconcile federal law with conflicting cannabis-related state laws by providing a federal “safe harbor" to financial services providers, including insurers and agents and brokers.

Specifically, the legislation would prevent criminal prosecution and civil liability against agents and brokers who, of their own accord, choose to engage with “cannabis-related legitimate businesses." It would also provide clarity for transactions involving these businesses.

Under current federal law, the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana is illegal, except for some limited research purposes. However, at the state level, all but a handful of states permit medical marijuana use in some capacity and many states allow the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

The Big “I," along with its industry partners, has worked diligently to include insurance protections in the SAFE Banking Act and is pleased this legislation provides legal clarity for agents and brokers. When the legislation was originally introduced in the House, a group of insurance trade associations, including the Big “I" sent a letter of support to the bill's cosponsors thanking them for including the much-needed clarity for insurance transactions related to cannabis that are otherwise permissible under state law.

As any cannabis-related legislation makes its way through Congress, the Big “I" will continue to provide members with updates in the weekly News & Views e-newsletter.

Wyatt Stewart is Big “I" assistant vice president of federal government affairs.