Ongoing Efforts to Allow Washington Financial Institutions to Work with Marijuana Businesses

Message from DFI Director Charlie Clark

While a small number of Washington financial institutions have been able to service some of the needs of the cannabis industry, it has not been without some risk. This is because of conflicting federal and state laws. Many in the cannabis industry here in Washington and across the country still have difficulty acquiring all of the banking services that they need.

This conflict between state and federal law has resulted in some industry participants being unable to use safe, regulated, and reliable money services. Public safety is a particular concern when industry participants are unbanked and hold large amounts of cash.

Until financial institutions can serve the cannabis industry without violating federal law, financial institutions banking cannabis, their employees, and the public will be at risk.

That is why on September 24, 2019, I joined other state regulators in writing a letter to Congress urging a yes vote on H.R. 1595.

I’m happy to report that the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1595, known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019.

The bill was sponsored by Congressmen Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Denny Heck of Washington, Steve Stivers of Ohio and Warren Davidson of Ohio- all members of the House Financial Services Committee.

If the Senate passes H.R. 1595 and it becomes law, it will provide a safe harbor for depository institutions that supply financial services to legitimate marijuana businesses in Washington.

- Charlie