Cannabis Safe Harbor Kept Out of Defense Bill

Despite bipartisan support from key senators, over 20 governors from both major political parties, and a broad coalition of cannabis, insurance, and business groups, the U.S. Senate prevented the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act from being included in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022.

The House originally passed the NDAA in September with the SAFE Banking Act provisions included, but after negotiations between House and Senate leaders, the provision was removed. As a result, the House passed a revised NDAA last night without the SAFE Banking Act included, which positions the NDAA for final approval by the Senate later this week.

PIA and our allies have been encouraging members of the Senate to include the SAFE Banking Act in the NDAA because we view it as a priority for our independent agent members. The House had included the SAFE Banking Act as part of its earlier version of the NDAA, which it passed on September 23, 2021. The SAFE Banking Act would protect insurance agents and carriers from federal prosecution for doing business with cannabis-related enterprises in states in which such businesses are legal. The bill would also make it easier for banks to offer financial services to the cannabis industry.

Nearly every state has legalized cannabis to some degree. PIA’s position is respectful of state insurance laws; we seek to protect independent agents from criminal prosecution for engaging in the sale of insurance to businesses that are legal according to state law. Including the SAFE Banking Act in the NDAA would have provided much-needed clarity and security to such insurance transactions.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are among the Senate Democrats who have resisted bipartisan calls to pass the SAFE Banking Act. Sens. Schumer, Booker, and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) insist SAFE Banking be part of a broader effort to enact criminal justice reforms.

Despite this setback, PIA will continue our efforts for the SAFE Banking Act to pass this Congress.