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House Debates Challenges to Cannabis-Related Business

On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee held a hearing to discuss efforts to minimize legal and compliance risks for banking and financial services businesses seeking to provide services to state-sanctioned cannabis-related businesses.
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On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee held a hearing to discuss efforts to minimize legal and compliance risks for banking and financial services businesses seeking to provide services to state-sanctioned cannabis-related businesses.

The Big “I” submitted a statement for the record in support of clarifying federal laws that create potential legal and criminal liability for insurance agents and brokers who choose to provide state-regulated insurance products to state-sanctioned cannabis businesses.

Under federal law, the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana are illegal except for some limited research purposes. However, at the state level, all but four states permit medical marijuana use in some capacity and several states now allow the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Ahead of the Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions hearing, “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Banking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses,” Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado), Denny Heck (D-Washington), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) circulated a discussion draft of the “Safe and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019” (SAFE Banking Act). Prior to circulation of the draft, the Big “I” worked to ensure that insurance producers would be considered a business permitted to provide services to cannabis-related businesses.

The legislation is expected to see several changes as it advances through the committee process. The Big “I” will continue working to further strengthen the bill’s protections for insurance services, as well as other legislative efforts on this issue. 

The 115th Congress introduced similar bipartisan legislation to help clarify federal and state legal conflicts related to marijuana, but none of it was enacted into law. Stakeholders are hoping that legislative efforts will meet more success in the current Congress; however, despite state action to loosen restrictions on cannabis, federal efforts continue to face long odds. 

Jennifer Webb is Big “I” federal government affairs counsel.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020
On the Hill