It is rather incredible that cannabis businesses keep breaking sales records (two months in a row in Oregon!) with so many regulatory obstacles put in their way. Local, state, and federal laws and rules stifle cannabis entrepreneurs unlike any other industry, yet the hardworking folks keep the Mary Jane train chugging along.
The lack of access to normal banking services is one of the most burdensome prohibitions, hindering not only cannabis businesses, but also everyone that they conduct business with, from their landlord to their insurance company to their attorney. Additionally, forcing businesses to be cash only is a danger to our communities.
Thankfully, common sense banking reform could be on the horizon with the U.S. House passing a coronavirus relief bill that includes the SAFE cannabis banking act. In addition to a majority of federal representatives supporting cannabis banking access, a supermajority of state attorneys general are urging Uncle Sam pass the SAFE Act. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joins 33 other AGs, forming a formidable bipartisan alliance. Marijuana Moment reported:
First, the public safety threat of operating on a largely cash-only basis has been exacerbated amid the crisis. Second, large cash transactions “places law enforcement, tax regulators, consumers, and patients at heightened risk of exposure to the virus.” Third, access to financial institutions would make it easier to collect tax revenue from marijuana sales, which is particularly needed to offset economic shortfalls due to the health crisis.
“The current predicament of a rapidly expanding national marketplace without access to the national banking systems has resulted in an untenable situation,” the officials wrote. “We stress that current legislative models are available to fix this situation.”
The letter goes on to say that passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act as part of coronavirus relief legislation would not represent an endorsement of cannabis legalization by Congress. “Rather, it reflects a recognition of the realities on the ground and an embrace of our federalist system of government that is flexible enough to accommodate divergent state approaches,” they said.
As usual for the cannabis community, passing the SAFE Act won’t be easy as passage in the Senate faces many hurdles. However, the progress that we’ve made among politicans and top law enforcement officers across the nation and political spectrum, bode well for the future of the movement and industry.