September 27, 2023

Brown Advances Bipartisan SAFER Banking Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, held a legislative markup on the SAFER Banking Act.

The SAFER Banking Act passed out of committee by a vote of 14-9.

Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery follow:

Today we will mark up the bipartisan legislation: S. 2860, the Secure And Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act [SAFER Banking Act].

I want to thank Senators Merkley and Daines for all their work on this.

Cannabis banking is just one part of the necessary conversation about marijuana policy. There is still much work to be done to acknowledge and mend the damage done by the war on drugs, work to make sure everyone – including our veterans – has access to the medicine they need and allow medical and scientific research on cannabis.

Cannabis policies look different in different states, but legal cannabis small businesses and their employees are running into many of the same issues. One of these issues is access to financial services.

Regardless of how you feel about states’ efforts to legalize marijuana, this bipartisan bill is necessary – it will make it safer for legal cannabis businesses and service providers to operate in their communities and protect their workers.

In May this committee held a hearing on the banking challenges of legal cannabis businesses and workers.

We heard from Ms. Packer, a former cannabis regulator, about the hurdles small cannabis businesses face when paying taxes in all cash and other regular business operations.

Mr. Oyefeso recounted the dangers that UFCW members face while working in businesses that are forced to operate in all cash. Employees become targets for violent robberies that under the most devastating circumstances can turn deadly.

Cannabis workers also face challenges proving their income when trying to rent a home or apply for a mortgage.

I want to thank our committee members for you and your staffs’ hard work on this legislation.

At the hearing in May, I said that I would not let legislation go through this committee that would weaken the regulators’ ability to do their jobs.

Senator Reed duly raised concerns about Section 10 of the previous “SAFE” Banking bill – a section that addressed deposit account terminations.

Through bipartisan work we have been able to find language that addresses both Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns.

Just like the last markup the Committee held for FEND and RECOUP, I remain committed to finding bipartisan paths forward.

I want to thank Senator Scott and his staff for their work preparing for this markup. Even on topics where we disagree, it is important that we are able to work together on behalf of this Committee.

I look forward to sending this bipartisan legislation to the Senate floor.