A Roundtable-supported bill that would allow federally regulated banks to provide mortgage and financial services to state-licensed, cannabis-related businesses (“CRBs”) without the threat of federal penalties passed the House April 19 on a strong bipartisan vote.
The SAFE Banking Act
- The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act [H.R. 1996 (117)] would provide commercial property owners a safe harbor if they lease space to a CRB, whose mortgages would not be subjected to corrective action by a bank.
- The SAFE Banking Act, which has been introduced in every Congress since 2013 by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), passed the House multiple times in the last Congress – both as a stand-alone measure and as an addition to coronavirus relief legislation.
- Rep. Perlmutter commented on the passage this week, “After years of bringing up this issue, I feel optimistic about the path forward for the SAFE Banking Act and, more broadly, reforms to our federal cannabis laws.” (Perlmutter news release, April 19)
- The Real Estate Roundtable is a long-standing supporter of the SAFE Act. Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer noted in March 2019 letter to policymakers that the legislation, “… clarifies that banks could not take adverse action on a loan to a real estate owner solely because that owner leases property to a legitimate CRB. The measure also protects sellers and lessors of real estate and other CRB ‘service providers’ by clarifying that proceeds from legitimate marijuana-related transactions do not derive from unlawful activity, and thus do not provide a predicate for federal criminal money laundering.” (Perlmutter news release, March 18, 2021 and Roundtable letter, March 25, 2019)
- The legislation is supported by a wide variety of other organizations, including the National Association of State Treasurers and Governors from 21 states and territories. (Perlmutter news release, April 19)
- The Roundtable also advocates that Congress should provide fuller protections to real estate business through legislation that clarifies state-compliant cannabis transactions are not illegal federal “trafficking” – and do not produce unlawful proceeds under money laundering statutes.
Cannabis and CRE
- Forty-seven states and DC currently legalize marijuana to varying degrees. Yet use, possession, and sale remains illegal under federal law. (National Council of State Legislatures, April 5, 2021)
- The growing trend in cannabis decriminalization is having an increasing impact on the commercial real estate industry, according to recent member survey released this month by the National Association of Realtors (NAR publication Marijuana & Real Estate: A Budding Issue)
The estimated value of the U.S. cannabis industry is $17.7 billion, a substantial amount of which remains unbanked. As of January 2021, the legal cannabis industry supports 321,000 jobs across the country. (Perlmutter news release, April 19)
# # #