In an important step for easing access to banking, insurance, and other financial services for businesses in the cannabis industry, on September 27, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee passed The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act with a 14-9 vote.  

According to one news report, “The bill would provide legal protection to banks or other financial institutions that offer services to state-legal marijuana businesses.”  As more states have enacted laws to permit recreational or medicinal marijuana use, banking laws have not changed, which has hamstrung the cannabis industry.  As one article observed, “Even as 39 states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use, the sector has struggled to scale. Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance, or one with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, along with federal prohibition, pose a risk to banking institutions. This, in turn, has limited access to financing and a broader market.”

Sales of legal cannabis are expected to surpass $33 billion this year, so clarifying banking and other laws affecting cannabis businesses’ access to financial institutions is an important step for this industry.

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