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American Bar Association Approves Two Cannabis-Related Resolutions

The American Bar Association (ABA) had its midyear meeting today, Monday, February 17th, and approved two resolutions that are cannabis-related. The ABA’s House of Delegates voted for the endorsement of legislation that helps the federal banking system to conduct routine business practices with cannabis businesses and called for a set standard of rules that clearly outlines the safety of a lawyer who represents a client involved in legal cannabis activity at the state level.

Language, as well as the overall goal, in the ABA’s banking resolution share very similar features with another bill that was approved by the House of Representatives. A similar bill that would fulfill the wishes of the ABA is the Safe and Fair Enforcement Banking (SAFE) Act. This bill was put before the House of Representatives in 2019, received approval, and is now awaiting a decision made by the Banking Committee within the Senate. The ABA’s banking resolution and the SAFE Act would effectively bring about a legal and clear line on banking interaction between cannabis businesses, federally regulated banks, and the provision of services by attorneys.

“[The ABA] urges Congress to enact legislation to clarify and ensure that it shall not constitute a federal crime for banking and financial institutions to provide services to businesses and individuals, including attorneys, who receive compensation from the sale of state-legalized cannabis or who provide services to cannabis-related legitimate business acting in accordance with state, territorial, and tribal laws.”

As for the SAFE Act, Sen. Mike Crapo, the panel’s chair for the Banking Committee, has gone on record and admitted that there is pressure from others on him to pass the bill and that he has also heard praise from anti-legalization lawmakers after he delayed the SAFE Act.

The ABA addressed the status of the SAFE Act in a supplementary report that was attached to the ABA’s cannabis banking resolution.

“Passage of the [Secure and Fair Enforcement] Banking Act or similar legislation will provide security for lawyers and firms acting to advise companies in the industry against having their accounts closed or deposits seized. This will also foster the rule of law by ensuring that those working in the state-legalized legitimate cannabis industry can seek counsel and help prevent money laundering and other crimes associated with off-the-books cash transactions.”


American Bar Association Approves Two Cannabis-Related Resolutions

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