Removing Barriers Blog

CUNA Writes to Senate in Support of SAFE Banking Act of 2019
Posted April 12, 2019 by CUNA Advocacy

Yesterday, CUNA wrote to Senators Merkely and Gardner in support of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019.  If enacted, this legislation would permit credit unions in states where marijuana is legal to safely serve their members' related needs.  In March, CUNA wrote to Representatives Perlmutter, Heck, Stivers, and Davidson in support of the House version of SAFE.

As stated in the letter, CUNA takes no position on the morality or wisdom of legalizing or decriminalizing medicinal or recreational cannabis at either the state or federal level. However, credit unions operating in states where it is legal have members and member businesses involved in the cannabis market who need access to traditional depository and lending services, the absence of which creates a significant public safety issue.

Credit unions exist to serve the financial services needs of their members, but the disparate treatment of production, distribution, sale and use of cannabis under federal law and some state laws has discouraged them from providing services to businesses throughout the supply chain in states where cannabis is legal.

The SAFE Banking Act of 2019 would offer narrowly targeted federal protections for credit unions and other financial institutions accepting deposits, extending credit, or providing payment services to an individual or business engaged in cannabis related commerce in states where such activity is legal with a safe harbor, so long as they are compliant with all other applicable laws and regulations. Furthermore, the SAFE Banking Act provides safe harbor to credit unions and their employees who are not aware if their members or customers are involved in this business.

Many credit unions operate in states where their voters or legislatures have made cannabis legal in one form or another. Therefore, CUNA believes that financial institutions should be permitted to lawfully serve businesses that engage in activities that are authorized under their state laws, even when such activity may be inconsistent with federal law.