New Bill Could Grant Cannabis-friendly Banks Protection

As congressional legislators continue to chase a measure to nationally protect banks that operate with Pennsylvania-legal cannabis companies, a bipartisan pair of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania senators have revealed that they will soon be debuting ‘buddy’ legislation Commonwealth.

Earlier this week, Senators John DiSanto (R-PA) and Sharif Street (D-PA) circulated co-sponsorship memorandums to colleagues disclosing their plan to put forth a measure that would protect banks and insurers from being charged by Pennsylvania regulators. The senators serve as leads and minority leaders of the Banking & Insurance Committee.

While banking institutions are generally warier of encountering consequences from nationwide regulators under the current policy of prohibition, the Pennsylvania-level cannabis baking reform could further authorize banks to operate with Pennsylvania’s medicinal cannabis market as congressional legislators try to further the federal policy alterations.

The senators pointed out that there is a 2014 national enforcement guidance in place for banks and the bud industry, but “commitment to this guidance does not vaccinate banking institutions from the law” and “most will not finance or aid cannabis-related companies without protective legislative action.”

“As an outcome, many cannabis-related companies are locked out of the banking system without access to banking means and are forced to operate solely in cash,” the message expresses. 

“This is a social safety risk as cannabis dispensaries are targets for robberies that put patrons, employees, and communities at stake.”

There’s not much the Pennsylvania legislature can do to get cannabis banking reform passed at the federal level, but the uncertain measure would make it so no Pennsylvania agency could “outlaw, penalize or otherwise prevent a banking institution or insurer from delivering banking or insurance services to a legitimate cannabis-related enterprise or the enterprise employees of a legitimate cannabis-related enterprise,” summarily expressed in the preliminary draft language of the measure that was shared with a famous cannabis news source.

It also states agencies cannot “suggest, incentivize or promote a banking institution or insurer” to not deliver services just due to an enterprise associating with cannabis.

Additionally, Pennsylvania agencies could “not take negative or corrective regulatory action on a loan made to a legitimate cannabis-related enterprise,” the syntax of the PA bill says.

In the recent co-sponsorship memo, DiSanto and Street worried that banking difficulties in the cannabis space “are not restricted to just those companies that have primary contact with the cannabis plant, however, also those entities that acquire payments from cannabis agencies, security firms, utility backers, vendors, and associates.”

Congressional legislators have made comparable points as they’ve pushed for the passing of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

That measure is “prepared to reduce cash-motivated offenses, enhance tax collections, and stimulate economic growth and development,” the Pennsylvania senators shared. “Access to the banking system for Pennsylvania legal cannabis companies additionally grants a safe and well-regulated enterprise.”

Last week, U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, a backer of the SAFE Banking Act, expressed that he’s “upset” that Congress hasn’t been capable of passing his measure with Democratic majorities in both chambers and control of the White House. Yet, while he’s retiring from Congress at the end of the current session.

Venturing back to Pennsylvania, Street is also the backer of a bipartisan measure that he debuted in October to legalize cannabis for adult consumption in Pennsylvania. Getting complete cannabis reform like that passed in the current scarlet-controlled legislature would be a tall task.

In the meantime, Lt. Gov. Fetterman, who is running for United States Senate this year, stated one of his primary goals in his final year in office is to ensure as many cannabis convicts receive an expungement. So far, Fetterman has kept his word.

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