Tester’s SAFER Banking Act Passes Committee, Sets up Full Senate Vote
Senator’s legislation to unlock banking access for legal cannabis businesses, improve safety
After years of work to empower small businesses and unlock banking access for the legal cannabis industry in Montana, today U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s SAFER Banking Act passed through the Senate Banking Committee, setting up the bill for a full vote on the Senate floor. Tester’s legislation would ensure that legal marijuana businesses can access banking services, such as savings and checking accounts, processing customers’ credit cards and employee payrolls.
Tester has been a longtime advocate and supporter for unlocking banking access for legal cannabis businesses in Montana, first co-sponsoring the very similar SAFE Banking Act in 2019.
“As a third-generation Montana farmer, I know how important it is for small businesses in rural America to have access to banking services,” said Tester. “I’ve supported this effort since 2019, and I’m proud to support the bipartisan SAFER Banking Act because it’s a commonsense fix that will allow legally-operated Montana small businesses to access the financial services they need to thrive, while also making our communities safer by cutting down on cash-motivated crimes.”
Tester’s bipartisan bill would allow banks to work with cannabis businesses and prevent any federal banking regulator from intervening or punishing those banks or credit unions. Currently, because marijuana is a Schedule I drug it is federally illegal for financial institutions for take funds that are marijuana related, even in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. This includes the businesses and owners themselves, but also related businesses like landlords and vendors. The lack of access to bank accounts, credit cards, and checks have forced state authorized cannabis businesses to operate in cash, opening the door to tax evasion and making cannabis businesses targets of potential crime.