The Senate Armed Services Committee has ignored efforts by bankers to gain the same free rent benefits that credit unions now receive on military bases.
National Credit Union Administration Board member Rodney Hood on Thursday called on federal banking regulators to begin developing a joint principles-based approach to marijuana banking.
Congress should enact marijuana banking legislation and then tackle the larger issue of legalization, Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis told Democratic senators last week. “Not only are cash-only businesses targets for crime, cannabis businesses are further disadvantaged compared to other legal businesses by being unable to open bank accounts or obtain loans at reasonable rates,” Polis wrote in a letter to Democratic senators who are seeking comment on broad legalization legislation. He continued, “The cannabis industry is simply too large to be prohibited from banking opportunities, and the Senate must remedy this harm by bringing this measure up for a
Key Democratic senators vowed Wednesday to block marijuana banking legislation unless it is enacted as part of a comprehensive federal cannabis legalization measure.
The policy agenda being circulated during the Independent Community Bankers of America’s “2021 Capital Summit” contains major anti-credit union rhetoric, including pushing plans to eliminate the credit union tax exemption, getting credit unions covered by the regulations in the Community Reinvestment Act and insisting that the National Credit Union Administration is failing to properly regulate and oversee the industry. Other than that, their policy objectives are very similar to the Credit Union National Association’s and the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions.
The House passed the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide banks and credit unions with a regulatory safe harbor if they provide financial services to marijuana related businesses in states where cannabis is legal. The bill also stops a possible “Operation Choke Point,” prohibiting financial regulators from requiring an institution to stop doing business with a company solely based on the company’s reputational risk. The fate of the bill in the Senate is not clear.
A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would make it easier for credit unions and banks to provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses.
Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mt.) and 27 cosponsors introduced the bill. The same bill was introduced last week in the House.
House supporters of marijuana banking legislation are feeling confident that their bill, named The SAFE Banking Act of 2021, will pass the House (as it did in the last session) and then a version of it, unlike last session, will be considered in the Senate. The bill would provide a safe harbor for credit unions and banks that provide services to cannabis-related businesses in states where marijuana is legal. Currently those businesses are forced to operate on a cash basis.
Republican senators this week introduced legislation that would prohibit large banks and credit unions from refusing to provide banking services to legal businesses. It is an attempt to prevent the Biden Administration from restarting Operation Choke Point, an Obama Administration project that was intended to hold financial institutions accountable for processing known fraudulent transactions. Republicans worry that approach would allow banks to avoid providing services to gun-related businesses and other controversial business ventures.
Cannabis banking legislation just got more complicated since Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says it should be combined with comprehensive criminal sentencing reform, which goes through the Judiciary committees.