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Rep. Courtney Helps Pass Historic Cannabis Banking Bill

September 25, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595). The SAFE Act would allow hemp and marijuana-related businesses in states with existing regulatory structures to access the banking system. Congressman Courtney is an original cosponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, which passed the House by a vote of 321-103.

“The bipartisan SAFE Banking Act will help eastern Connecticut farmers and small businesses to finally access the financial services they deserve, and that they need to run their businesses,” said Congressman Courtney. “Our hemp farmers and medical marijuana dispensary owners are operating in accordance with state law, and the local banking institutions they work with should not be penalized by federal regulators because they offer banking services to companies and farmers that we here in Connecticut have allowed to do business. I was proud to be an original co-sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, and after having worked hard to help establish the hemp industry in Connecticut, I was especially glad to vote for its passage today in the House. Congratulations to my good friend and colleague, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, for working to build the support needed to ultimately pass this historic legislation – this is good news for eastern Connecticut, and for the country.”

Congressman Courtney is an original cosponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, and has voiced support for the legislation while touring medical marijuana dispensaries and hemp farms throughout eastern Connecticut. Courtney has recently made visits to the Thames Valley Relief Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Uncasville, CT, and to Fine Fettle Dispensary in Willimantic, CT, to discuss his support for the SAFE Banking Act. Courtney has also provided updates on the SAFE Banking Act in numerous meetings with eastern Connecticut hemp farmers, including with the owners of Jarmoc Farm in Enfield.

Because cannabis remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, financial institutions providing banking services to legitimate and licensed cannabis businesses under state laws are subject to criminal prosecution under several federal statutes, such as “aiding and abetting” and money laundering. Therefore, businesses that grow, market or sell cannabis in states that have legalized its sale are effectively locked out of the banking system, making it difficult for them to maintain checking accounts, access credit, accept credit and debit cards, meet payroll, pay tax revenue, and more.

The SAFE Banking Act seeks to harmonize federal and state law by prohibiting federal regulators from taking punitive measures against depository institutions that provide banking services to legitimate cannabis-related businesses and ancillary businesses that serve them. The bill establishes a safe harbor for any depository institution that chooses to provide banking services to a legitimate cannabis-related business that holds and maintains a license from a state or local government to engage in manufacturing, growing, or producing cannabis, as well as any business that handles, sells, transports, displays or distributes cannabis or cannabis products.