Politician Info

Senator Merkley works tirelessly for sensible marijuana laws. He introduced the SAFE Banking Act of 2019, and has consistently been a loud voice in favor of progressive reform legislation. Senator Merkley has been a longtime friend and champion for the marijuana legalization movement. 

Holds office U.S. Senate

Co-sponsored Legislation

S.2227 - MORE Act of 2019

S.1552 - Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act

S.597 - Marijuana Justice Act of 2019


"Right now, legal cannabis businesses are forced to operate entirely in cash. It's a dangerous system—ripe for robbery, assaults, tax fraud, and money laundering. If you care about public safety, cash is a terrible system. I introduced the SAFE Banking Act to help make sure all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees and their communities safe. We need to finally pass it in 2023, and we have a path to do it. Cannabis reform needs to be rooted in restorative justice. The SAFE Banking Act of 2023 includes expanded equity provisions, and I’m going to be pushing to pair it with funding for states that choose to expunge cannabis records as part of a final package." (April 30, 2023).

"Cannabis businesses should have access to safe banking. I'm going to keep fighting to get this done. Let them bank!" (Twitter, September 2022)

(3/5/19) “More than half of the United States has enacted legislation allowing for either medical or adult-use of cannabis, yet federal law remains in conflict,” Merkley said. “This creates significant problems, not only with the prosecution of nonviolent cannabis crimes — which disproportionately hurts people of color — but also with lack of banking services for legally operating businesses. As long as financial institutions aren’t able to service cannabis enterprises, these businesses are forced to operate in an all-cash environment that’s unsafe and lacks accountability. This bill would place cannabis legalization in the hands of states — exactly where it should be."

Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the announcement from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that the U.S. will affirm its prohibition on medical marijuana.

"Today's announcement from the DEA is a huge disappointment to people in the 27 jurisdictions across the country that have legalized medicinal marijuana and in the growing number of states that are legalizing recreational marijuana use. It is counterproductive that as millions of voters and legislatures across the country are taking steps to allow and regulate the use of marijuana, the federal government is doubling down on its archaic prohibition and continuing to perpetuate an untenable status quo.

"There are huge hurdles that legal marijuana businesses in states like Oregon are facing with the DEA's reluctance to change. Currently, marijuana businesses operating under state laws that have legalized medicinal or recreational use have had a hard time accessing the banking system because banks and credit unions that provide them services can be sanctioned or shut down under federal law. Without the ability to access bank accounts, accept credit cards, or write checks, businesses must operate using dangerously large amounts of cash. In Oregon alone, it is estimated that the marijuana market could bring in close to half a billion dollars in revenue, all in cash, during its first 14 months of legal sales. The federal government shouldn't force Oregon's legal marijuana businesses to carry gym bags full of cash to pay their taxes, employees and bills.

"Expanding access to marijuana for research is helpful, but doesn't solve these problems. It's clear now that Congress must take action to end the confusing patchwork of state and federal laws and regulations so that businesses in states that have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana can access banking services, additional federal research can be conducted, and Veterans Affairs doctors can finally discuss medicinal marijuana with patients."

"U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley plans to vote for Measure 91, which would legalize marijuana for recreational use in Oregon, making him the first U.S. senator to do so, according to Talking Points Memo. "I lean in support of it. I think folks on both sides of the argument make a good case," Merkley said. "And there is concern about a series of new products - and we don't have a real track record from Colorado and Washington. But I feel on balance that we spend a lot of money on our criminal justice system in the wrong places and I lean in favor of this ballot measure."

Contact Jeff Merkley

Web: http://merkley.senate.gov/

Phone: 202-224-3753


531 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

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