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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 18, 2019 03:48 PM
From: Senator Sharif Street
To: All Senate members
Subject: Resolution urging Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act
In the near future, I plan to introduce a resolution that urges the United States Congress to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019.

Under federal law, the cultivation, possession and distribution of cannabis is illegal. A majority of states, however, have established a range of laws legalizing medicinal and recreational use. Nearly every state, including Pennsylvania, allows for the medicinal use of cannabis in some capacity, and a small but increasing number of states allow for adult-use of cannabis. However, due to the federal Controlled Substance Act and the Schedule I classification of cannabis, legal cannabis related businesses are ineligible for banking services provided by traditional banking institutions. The lack of banking services forces Pennsylvania’s tax-paying cannabis related businesses to pay bills, employees, suppliers and taxes in cash. Dealing only in cash creates unnecessary public safety concerns and forces cannabis related businesses to operate without transparency.

Forcing legal cannabis businesses to forgo banking services is seriously impacting the Commonwealth by allowing a plethora of cash to be pulled from the economy and stored in various undisclosed locations around the state. So far, medical cannabis has generated $132,000,000 in total sales and $2,000,000 in tax revenue.

While I have introduced legislation to create a Cannabis Banking Commission to focus on state level solutions to this problem, the problem will not truly be solved unless Congress acts on the federal level. Without a change in federal law, neither the federal banking agencies nor state government can remove the legal restrictions and provide the legal cannabis industry safe access to banking services.

This resolution does NOT call for the federal legalization of cannabis. It is narrowly focused on passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (SAFE Banking Act) which seeks to harmonize federal and state law by prohibiting federal banking regulators from engaging in certain actions against financial institution, such as discouraging, prohibiting, or penalizing depository institutions that serve cannabis related businesses that are operating legally within the states. Additionally, any depository institutions or employee of the institution would be exempt from federal prosecution or investigation solely for providing banking services to a state authorized cannabis related business. This safe harbor legislation is intended to provide certainty for financial institutions to offer their products and service to well-regulated legal cannabis related businesses.

Please join me in sponsoring this important resolution that will allow cannabis related businesses to bank their cash safely. If you have any questions, contact my Policy Director, Micah Mahjoubian, at micah@pasenate.com.

Introduced as SR49