Financial Services Committee passes Association-backed marijuana safe harbor bill

Drug trafficking

The House Financial Services Committee earlier today passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, commonly referred to as the SAFE Banking Act. The bill, HR 1595, would provide a safe harbor for financial institutions, including credit unions, serving marijuana businesses in states where it is legal to do so.

The New York Credit Union Association strongly supports the legislation and has advocated for its passage.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., and has nine New York co-sponsors, including Reps. Gregory Meeks, D-5; Grace Meng, D-6; Nydia Velazquez, D-7; Yvette Clark, D-9; Jerrold Nadler, D-10; Adrian Espaillat, D-13; Carolyn Maloney, D-12; Sean Patrick Maloney, D-18; and Brian Higgins, D-26.

Last June, Association President/CEO William J. Mellin penned a letter to Perlmutter and other lawmakers thanking them for their leadership on the issue.

In his letter, Mellin explained that New York, like a majority of the states, has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. He highlighted that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and as a result, New York’s credit unions have been unable to serve the needs of their members and prospective members who are in some way engaged in marijuana-related businesses.

The legislation would “allow credit unions to accept deposits, extend credit, and provide payment services to individuals or businesses engaged in marijuana-related commerce in states, like New York, where such activity is legal, provided that the credit unions comply with all other applicable laws,” Mellin explained at the time. “It would also provide a safe harbor for credit unions and their employees in situations where they are not aware that a member is involved in a marijuana-related business.”

The Association will continue working with lawmakers, their staff and regulators to ensure credit unions can access and serve the cannabis industry.

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