Barr, Amodei support House approval of SAFE Banking Act

U.S. Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Mark Amodei (R-NV) commended passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019.

H.R. 1595, which the U.S. Senate received on Sept. 26 for consideration, generally prohibits a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate marijuana-related business, according to the congressional record summary.

“By allowing state-licensed cannabis businesses access to the federal banking system, this legislation will protect public safety while also allowing law enforcement officials and financial regulators to properly monitor legal cannabis transactions,” Rep. Amodei said on Sept. 25 following the House vote, 321-103, approving H.R. 1595.

The bill now includes amendments offered by Rep. Barr that would permit banks and other financial services companies to serve legally operating hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) businesses; would clarify that banks don’t need to file suspicious activity reports for transactions related to hemp or hemp-derived products; and would direct federal banking regulators to confirm the legality of hemp and provide best practices for financial institutions serving related businesses.

“At a time when hemp-related businesses are booming, many Kentucky hemp farmers and businesses are experiencing roadblocks when it comes to accessing banking and financial services,” said Rep. Barr. “While banks and credit unions want to serve these businesses, they often have concerns about possible legal implications.”

Rep. Amodei said the bill would align state and federal marijuana banking laws.

“In my opinion, it’s the height of hypocrisy for the federal government to accept tax money from cannabis-related businesses in Nevada, while at the same time, banning them access to the banking system,” Rep. Amodei said.

Additionally, the Nevada congressman said that when such companies are forced to operate exclusively on a cash basis, they become “soft targets for criminal activity” while preventing oversight “of billions of dollars in revenues for regulatory compliance purposes.”

H.R. 1595 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which is already considering the same-named Senate companion bill, S. 1200.