Pot Banking Prospects Dealt a Blow as Key Senator Opposes House’s Bill

(Bloomberg) -- A key senator has come out against a House bill that would make it easier for banks to do business with cannabis companies, dealing a major blow to pot growers and lenders hoping legislation would emerge from Congress anyime soon.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo said Wednesday that the so-called SAFE Banking Act passed in the House doesn’t address his concerns about public health and safety impacts of legalizing pot businesses. The Idaho Republican is seeking feedback on the issue, including suggestions on ways to improve the legislation.

“I remain firmly opposed to efforts to legalize marijuana on the federal level,” Crapo said in a statement. “I have significant concerns that the SAFE Banking Act does not address the high level potency of marijuana, marketing tactics to children, lack of research on marijuana’s effects, and the need to prevent bad actors and cartels from using the banks to disguise ill-gotten cash to launder money into the financial system.”

The House advanced its legislation in September with bipartisan support. The bill protects lenders from federal punishment for doing business with firms in the burgeoning industry. It was designed to allay national banks’ fear of doing business with cannabis companies because federal law makes it illegal for them to accept cash deposits, process credit-card payments, clear checks or make loans.

In the past year, lobbying groups including the American Bankers Association have pushed for legislation to amend the current rules about banking pot, which has helped attract Republican support.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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