Cannabis banking protections provided in congressional spending bill

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Banks that serve lawful marijuana businesses would be protected from a crackdown by financial regulators such as the U.S. Department of Treasury under a provision in a draft congressional spending bill.

The House Financial Services and General Government subcommittee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Monday night, so it’s possible there could be changes.

The provision would offer a similar though more narrow protection as the SAFE Banking Act, which was passed by a key U.S. House Committee in late March but still needs full approval from the House and Senate.

One big difference: The spending bill measure would be in effect only for the next fiscal year, while the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would be enshrined in law until amended.

In addition, the spending provision doesn’t protect financial institutions from possible enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has a separate spending bill.

However, the measure in the Financial Services spending bill would prohibit financial regulators from spending money to go after financial institutions that do business with lawful cannabis companies.

According to the provision:

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds, and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State, political subdivision of a State, or Indian Tribe ….”

Meanwhile, congressional lawmakers hope the SAFE Banking Act will reach the House floor as soon as this month. A companion bill has been reintroduced in the Senate.