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SAFE Banking Act Introduced in Senate

The legislation attempts to reconcile federal law with conflicting cannabis-related state laws by providing a federal safe harbor to financial services providers including insurers, agents and brokers.
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safe banking act introduced in senate

Earlier this week, Big “I"-supported cannabis-related legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate. 

The “Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act," was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Steve Daines (R-Montana). Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) introduced the same legislation in the House last week.

The legislation attempts to 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.

The legislation would prevent criminal prosecution and civil liability against agents and brokers who 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 towards legal clarity for agents and brokers. A group of insurance trade associations 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 Big “I" supports federal legislation that creates a “safe harbor" for agents and brokers who, of their own accord, choose to do business with cannabis-related legitimate businesses. Any such legislation would protect Big “I" members from criminal and civil liability.

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.

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Thursday, March 25, 2021
On the Hill