Marijuana Banking Dropped from Competitiveness Bill

By David Baumann - June 24, 2022

Legislation left out despite support from credit union trade groups and NCUA board member.


Congressional leaders have agreed to omit marijuana banking provisions from the China competitiveness legislation being negotiated on Capitol Hill, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., said Thursday.

And with the legislation having passed the House several times, Perlmutter, the primary House sponsor of the legislation, once again blamed the Senate for the decision.

“The Senate continues to ignore the public safety risk of forcing cannabis businesses to deal in all cash,” he said. “In the wake of the Senate’s inaction, people continue to be killed, businesses continue to be robbed, and employees and business owners in the cannabis industry continue to be excluded from the financial system.”

Perlmutter successfully pushed the House to include marijuana banking in its version of the competitiveness bill, which is considered must-pass legislation. The Senate version of the bill does not contain the provisions.

Senate Democratic leaders, including Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., have stated they want to address the banking issue in a larger marijuana decriminalization bill. However, that bill would be unlikely to become law this year.

Background to the Bill

The marijuana banking bill would provide a regulatory safe harbor for credit unions and banks that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses in states where cannabis is legal. Because marijuana is not legal on the federal level, credit unions and banks that conduct business with marijuana firms could face sanctions from their regulators.

Perlmutter and others have stated the lack of financial services has forced marijuana businesses to conduct business solely in cash, which, they say, has led to a rash of robberies across the country.

Support From Credit Union Trade Groups and NCUA Board Member

Credit union and bank trade groups have endorsed the legislation, as has National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board member Rodney Hood.

“Here we have a rising industry that is rapidly growing—estimated at $30 billion this year alone—and will only continue to grow,” Hood told a marijuana banking forum held last week by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors. “And yet the basic commercial banking infrastructure needed to provide financial services to this industry is virtually non-existent.”

Rodney Hood NCUA

NCUA Board Member Rodney Hood

Hood explained the NCUA has an internal working group focused on the marijuana banking issue so the agency will be ready if and when it becomes law. He added the agency also is planning a roundtable for examiners and industry leaders to share information.

Recently, the National Conference of Mayors endorsed the banking legislation.

Meanwhile, Perlmutter, who is retiring from the House at the end of the year, has vowed to try to attach the banking provisions to other must-pass bills.

“I will continue to push for SAFE Banking to be included in COMPETES, other legislative vehicles, or for the Senate to finally take up the standalone version of the bill which has been sitting in the Senate for three and a half years,” he said.

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