Bank of America, the National Rifle Association, and Mastercard are among the entities that are currently lobbying on the marijuana banking act.
As first reported in an article published on Cannabis Wire on October 20, Bank of America, the National Rifle Associaton, and Mastercard included the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation, also known as the SAFER Banking Act, in their lobbying disclosure for the third quarter of 2023.
The bill, which has recently been voted in the Senate Banking Committee, aims to ease access to banking services for marijuana businesses as they are currently unable to due to the illegal status of marijuana at the federal level.
The Senate vote was a historic moment as it marked the first time the Senate addressed marijuana banking legislation, despite the previous version of the SAFER Banking Act, also known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act, passing in the House on multiple occasions but failing in the Senate.
While Bank of America has disclosed its lobbying activities on both S. 1323 and S. 2860, which are, respectively, the SAFE Banking Act and the SAFER Banking Act approved by the Senate committee, the NRA has only disclosed such activities in relation to the SAFER Banking Act. However, neither of them has disclosed their position, which means it is not possible to determine whether their lobbying activities are in favor of or against the bill.
However, their previous stance toward marijuana can provide a basis for presuming their current position.
In recent years, Bank of America has displayed interest in the marijuana industry. In 2019, Bank of America Merrill Lynch initiated equity research coverage of Canadian marijuana companies. Additionally, both Goldman Sachs and Bank of America participated in Constellation Brands’ investment in Canopy Growth, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch securing the necessary funding for the deal. However, in 2021, Bank of America informed the Scottsdale Research Institute that it would be closing its bank account within the next month, even though the institute’s marijuana research had received federal government approval, as reported by Marijuana Moment.
The NRA does not have an official stance on marijuana. However, David Keene, who served as the NRA’s president until 2013, expressed concern about how federal restrictions criminalizing medical marijuana patients are causing significant issues. In a Washington Times op-ed published in 2018, he wrote that the federal government’s refusal to align with state decisions on this matter has created problems for many gun owners.
However, Bank of America and the NRA are not the only two entities that are lobbying for the SAFER Act.
Cannabis Wire has reported that Mastercard is actively engaged in lobbying efforts related to the SAFER Banking Act. Initially, Mastercard lobbied on marijuana banking in 2019 and 2020, as reported by Cannabis Wire. However, there was a hiatus in their disclosures regarding marijuana until the current quarter, when they resumed lobbying efforts, particularly in support of the SAFER Banking Act.
This comes after Mastercard’s request to financial institutions in July to cease accepting marijuana transactions via PIN debit cards. Mastercard’s choice to limit options for marijuana consumers implied they have fewer convenient payment methods for purchasing marijuana without using cash.
The roster of companies involved in lobbying for the SAFER Banking Act also includes additional entities, such as the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the largest U.S. options exchange, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and other companies that have previously engaged in lobbying efforts related to marijuana-related legislation.
Alyson Martin, the co-founder of Cannabis Wire and author of the scoop, highlighted that the SAFER Banking Act has garnered more congressional lobbying focus than any other marijuana-related legislation. The list of lobbyists now includes various corporations and organizations, some of which had previously engaged in lobbying for marijuana banking or related matters. Many of these entities have either resumed lobbying efforts or adjusted how they articulate their priorities.