The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019, or the SAFE Banking Act, would forbid federal banking regulators from penalizing banks and credit unions for providing financial services to legitimate marijuana-related businesses. The Senate banking committee held a hearing for the bill on Tuesday, July 23.
This bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., aims to “increase public safety by … reducing the amount of cash at such businesses.”
A similar bill co-sponsored by Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., is awaiting a vote in the House.
Currently, banks and credit unions fear repercussions for working with federally illegal businesses. So, a majority of banks do not offer their services, including loans or bank accounts, to cannabis businesses. This means many legal marijuana dispensaries operate entirely in cash.
Rachel Pross, a representative of the Credit Union National Association who spoke at the committee hearing on the bill, said about half of cannabis dispensaries have had cash stolen. As a result, legal marijuana businesses spend a significant amount of money on security.
John Lord, CEO and owner of LivWell Enlightened Health, testified at the hearing and said there were “incredible safety risks” involved with the large amount of cash at certain dispensaries.
In 2016, marine veteran Travis Mason was killed by robbers at a legal dispensary in Aurora, Colo. In an attempted armed robbery of a Los Angeles dispensary, a security guard died and three others were wounded. This incident took place about a year after a security guard was shot and killed at the same dispensary, said the Los Angeles Police Department in a CBS Los Angeles interview.
Though the federal government has not tried to prosecute states for legalizing medical or recreational cannabis and has not