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Roundtable Urges Senate Committees to Address Federal-State Cannabis Policy Conflicts Constraining Banking, Real Estate Transactions

  • May 3, 2019

The Real Estate Roundtable on April 30 wrote to the Senate Banking and Judiciary Committees urging hearings to consider the SAFE Banking Act (S. 1200) and the STATES Act (S. 1028) – measures that would provide clarity for banking firms and real estate providers to fully serve the needs of cannabis-related businesses deemed legal under state law.  (Roundtable Policy Letter, April 30)

Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer states in the April 30 letter, "Passage of the SAFE Banking Act is a strong first step to clarify a full range of proper business conduct in the rapidly evolving context of cannabis policy."

  • The bipartisan Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is led by co-sponsors Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).  S. 1200 clarifies that banks would not face adverse action on a loan to a real estate owner solely because that owner leases property to legitimate, state-licensed, cannabis-related businesses (CRBs).  The measure would also protect sellers and lessors of real estate and other CRB "service providers" by clarifying that proceeds from state-approved marijuana-related transactions do not derive from unlawful activity, and thus do not provide a predicate for federal criminal money laundering.
  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer states in the letter, "Passage of the SAFE Banking Act is a strong first step to clarify a full range of proper business conduct in the rapidly evolving context of cannabis policy."
  • DeBoer encouraged the committees to hold hearings on the SAFE Act to create a record for resolving and reconciling the conflict between business transactions that are deemed legal under state law, yet exposed to federal criminal liability.  If the SAFE Act is enacted, federally regulated banks would no longer face the threat of sanction simply by providing financial services to a legitimate state-authorized CRB.
  • The Roundtable letter also supports the swift enactment of the bipartisan Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States  (STATES) Act, led by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  S. 1028 would ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to cannabis within its borders.  (U.S. News & World Report, April 4 and  Roundtable Weekly, April 12)  
  • In the House, the STATES Act (H.R. 2093) was reintroduced on April 4 by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and David Joyce (D-OH).  Additionally, the SAFE Act (H.R. 1595) – co-sponsored by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Warren Davidson (R-OH) – was approved by the House Financial Services Committee on March 27 by a 45-15 vote. (Roundtable Weekly, April 26) 

Prospects for passing cannabis-related bills in the Senate remains uncertain.  Senate Banking Chairman Michael Crapo (R-ID) this week expressed doubt about the SAFE Act in Congress.  "As long as cannabis is illegal under federal law, it seems to me to be difficult for us to resolve this," he said.  (Politico Pro, May 1)