Twelve members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including two from Colorado, are publicly pushing back against a federal bill that would give legal cannabis businesses access to banking services.
In a Feb. 13 letter sent to Mike Crapo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Reps. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, and 10 other Republican representatives applauded the chairman’s concerns about the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act and urged him to “stand strong” in his assessment of the risks posed by allowing dispensaries, cultivations and other businesses access to the federal banking system.
“We have reservations with the unprecedented approach of allowing banking access for a Schedule I drug, in addition to increasing investment in marijuana enterprises even as they remain federally illegal,” the representatives wrote. Their primary concerns include addressing marijuana potency, impaired driving and the continued effects of the vaping crisis, they added.
The SAFE Banking Act, championed by Colorado Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, passed the House last September by a vote of 321-103. The 12 representatives who wrote the recent letter to Crapo voted against it. They sent the letter in response to advocates who are pushing for the Senate to vote on the legislation soon.
In his comments published Dec. 18, Crapo recommended adding public health and safety requirements to the legislation, such as requiring potency disclosures and a potential 2% THC limit on products before allowing banks to do business with cannabis companies, and rules for preventing “bad actors” from laundering money through banks.
“The SAFE Banking Act jeopardizes public safety by legitimizing banking access for a Schedule I drug,” Buck said in a statement. “It is important that we continue to tread lightly and consider public health concerns that surround the marijuana industry.”
Earlier this month, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis unveiled an initiative to entice more state-chartered banks and credit unions to offer services to cannabis businesses, stating the lack of banking opportunities poses both economic and public safety threats. Burglary is the most common crime at marijuana dispensaries and cultivations, and experts say it’s because they are forced to deal in cash.
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