The Big “I" supports the legislation because it creates a “safe harbor" for agents and brokers who choose to do business with cannabis-related legitimate businesses.
Earlier this week, Big “I"-supported cannabis-related legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in strong bipartisan fashion by a vote of 321-101.
The Big “I" supports the “Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act," H.R. 1996—introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio)—because it reconciles federal law with conflicting cannabis-related state laws by providing a federal “safe harbor" to financial services providers, including insurers, 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 several states now allow the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The Big “I," along with its industry partners, worked diligently to include the insurance protections in the SAFE Banking Act and is pleased with this step toward legal clarity for agents and brokers. Prior to the House vote, a group of insurance trade associations, including the Big “I," sent a letter of support to the bill's cosponsors thanking them for including needed clarity for insurance transactions related to cannabis that are otherwise permissible under state law.
The legislation now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration where the same legislation, S. 910, the SAFE Banking Act, has been introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Steve Daines (R-Montana). As any cannabis-related legislation makes its way through Congress, we 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.