By Wyatt Stewart
[On February 4, 2022], cannabis-related legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022″ or the “America COMPETES Act of 2022.” The Big “I”-supported cannabis legislation, titled H.R. 1996, the “Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act,” was added to the broader legislation as an amendment the night before.
The SAFE Banking Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado), would reconcile federal law with conflicting cannabis-related state laws by providing a federal “safe harbor” to financial services providers, including insurers and agents and brokers.
Specifically, the legislation would prevent criminal prosecution and civil liability against agents and brokers who, of their own accord, choose to engage with “cannabis-related legitimate businesses.” It would also provide clarity for transactions involving these businesses.
Under current federal law, the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana is illegal, except for some limited research purposes. However, at the state level, all but a handful of states permit medical marijuana use in some capacity and many states allow the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The Big “I,” along with its industry partners, has worked diligently to include the insurance protections in the SAFE Banking Act and is pleased this legislation provides legal clarity for agents and brokers. When the legislation was originally introduced in the House, a group of insurance trade associations, including the Big “I,” sent a letter of support to the bill’s cosponsors thanking them for including needed clarity for insurance transactions related to cannabis that are otherwise permissible under state law.
The legislation now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration where the Senate leaders from both parties have recently expressed skepticism about including the SAFE Banking Act in unrelated legislation. As any cannabis-related legislation makes its way through Congress, the Big “I” will continue to provide members with updates in the weekly News & Views e-newsletter.
Wyatt Stewart is Big “I” assistant vice president of federal government affairs.
The article was originally published on iamagzine.com and has been reposted/reprinted with permission. Click here to view the original publication.