Merkley on Introduction of SAFER Banking Act; Commitment to Restorative Justice Provisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley – the lead sponsor of legislation to ensure that legal cannabis businesses would have access to critical banking and financial services – issued the following statement after introducing updated bipartisan legislation, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act:

“Forcing legal businesses to operate in all-cash is dangerous for our communities; it’s an open invitation to robberies, muggings, money laundering, and organized crime—and the only people benefiting from the current system are criminals. We have momentum on our side to finally get a bill signed into law that ends the cannabis cash economy and ensures all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to operate with certainty. I’m looking forward to the Banking Committee taking up this legislation next week.

“I’m pleased that this bill maintains a safe harbor for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) to ensure they can also serve cannabis businesses. I remain committed to ensuring that additional restorative justice provisions – such as the HOPE and GRAM Acts – are added on the floor before final Senate passage, as Senator Daines and I outlined in April. I am grateful to Majority Leader Schumer for reiterating his personal commitment to ensuring that these two provisions are added on the floor. As we adjust cannabis policy to reflect the reality that the majority of the country lives in, it is imperative that we also undo the harms perpetuated by the War of Drugs and criminalization of cannabis on communities of color.

“We can’t move quickly enough to get the bipartisan SAFER Banking Act signed into law, with these important provisions.”

Merkley is the lead sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act, as well as its predecessor the SAFE Banking Act – which he has led since 2015. After original introduction in April, Merkley and Montana’s U.S. Senator Steve Daines stated their intent to allow floor amendments to add provisions such as the Harnessing Opportunity by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act – which would support states with grants that want to expunge cannabis records – and the Gun Rights and Marijuana (GRAM) Act – which would allow state-legal cannabis users to purchase and possess firearms.