Significant Support for Banking Reform

Stephen Andrews
09 Sep 2022

Poll results from national banking industry group are a turning point in a years-long legislation campaign to enable cannabis businesses access to regular financial services. The poll, commissioned by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), indicates that nearly two-thirds of U.S voters seem to be in favor of financial institutions opening up their services to legal cannabis operators.

The ICBA group says that poll results suggest solid bipartisan support for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE Banking Act), the federal bill that's supposed to allow cannabis businesses much-needed access to regular financial services such as taking a loan. The bill has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives multiple times in the past, however each time it has failed to pass in the Senate. 

According to the recent survey, a strong majority of U.S. voters now believe that enabling cannabis companies access to financial services reduces the risk of robbery and other crimes at marijuana-related businesses. 

The survey was carried out with the help of polling firm Morning Consult and found that 65% of U.S. voters support banking services for cannabis businesses in legal states. The ICBA's polling also found that:

  • Over 80% of voters believe that marijuana companies that operate exclusively in cash face a higher risk of robbery and theft. 
  • 62% agree that restricting cannabis operators from access to regular banking services threatens public safety.
  • 63% agree that banking reform will improve public safety. 
  • 58% say a Senate approval of the SAFE Act is important. 

"U.S. voters have made clear that current law inhibiting access to the banking system for cannabis-related businesses has a negative impact on local communities," ICBA president and CEO Rebecca Romero Rainey said in a statement. "With a supermajority of U.S. voters voicing support for allowing cannabis-related businesses access to the banking system, the Senate should act now on bipartisan cannabis banking legislation that the House has passed seven times," the statement added.

What Do You Need to Know About the SAFE Act?

The SAFE Banking Act was first introduced in Congress back in 2013 by Democratic Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado. The House of Representatives has voted and passed the bill seven times, but each time it has failed to be met with approval by the Senate. 

Overall, the bill's purpose is to ease the access of cannabis companies to regular banking services. The legislation clarifies that proceeds from legitimate cannabis operators would not be considered illegal and instructs federal regulators to craft rules for how they would regulate banking activity with all affected business entities.

Out of fears they could breach federal laws, banks have remained largely unwilling to do business with companies that sell any type of cannabis product.

Under the SAFE Act, banks and credit unions won't be penalized for doing business with "cannabis-related legitimate businesses," their service providers, or state or local governments with jurisdiction over those companies.  

Once enacted, the SAFE Act would remove a considerable obstacle that slows down the growth of the cannabis sector nationwide. The bill will benefit all states regulating medical and/or recreational cannabis markets. 

Stephen Andrews