In a surprise to some, a Republican-controlled Senate Committee has scheduled a hearing to consider the current challenges to providing financial services to cannabis-related businesses operating in states that have legalized marijuana. The Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. EST, and will include testimony from, among others, Rachel Pross, representing the Credit Union National Association, and John Lord, CEO and Owner of LivWell Enlightened Health.
Companion bills that would pave the way for financial institutions to transact with cannabis-related legitimate businesses have been working through both the Senate and House of Representatives. The House bill – the SAFE Banking Act of 2019 – currently has 206 co-sponsors and is fast approaching a floor vote. The Republican-controlled Senate has long been seen as the biggest obstacle to legislation passing – currently only 32 of 100 senators are sponsoring the Senate version. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and often viewed as one of the gatekeepers to federal cannabis banking legislation passing, previously refused to schedule a hearing on the topic. That position changed this week with the announcement of the hearing, which comes as a welcome surprise to many following the legislation.
While this is just another step on a long road to federal legislation, it may signal growing likelihood that the SAFE Banking Act of 2019 could ultimately become law. We will closely monitor the legislation and upcoming hearing and provide updates as they become available.