SAFE Banking Act Appears in Democrats’ HEROES Act
May 15th, 2020
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently announced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) to provide emergency supplement appropriations to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis affecting the economy.
The Act contains the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would ensure that cannabis businesses have access to financial services, reduce risky cash-only transactions, and improve transparency for regulators. While the Act passed the house last year, it has stalled in the Senate Banking Committee.
The addition to the HEROES Act came after the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and others lobbied Congress last week to include language in the bill. They argued that cash has been shown to spread COVID-19 and the personal proximity required for cash transactions puts workers at risk.
“On behalf of the legal cannabis industry, we commend the congressional leadership for prioritizing public health and safety by including sensible cannabis banking policy in this legislation,” said Aaron Smith, Executive Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).
“Our industry employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and has been deemed ‘essential’ in most states. It’s critically important that essential cannabis workers are not exposed to unnecessary health risks due to outdated federal banking regulations.”
While some cannabis companies have managed to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, they lack the same financial support that many other businesses have been able to access. The federal government has banned cannabis companies from accessing the PPP loan program while even write-offs remain off limits.
The HEROES Act was passed by the House of Representatives but is not expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate in its current form. Some Republicans have called the proposal a “$3T socialist wishlist” and promised that it will “go nowhere”.
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