As cannabis legalization has moved more mainstream, we have seen more and more progress at the federal level, but much-needed reforms are moving entirely too slowly, especially for those operating businesses that could use normal banking services and tax policies. With support across demographics, it can be extremely frustrating to the cannabis community and industry to see bills stalled, such as the SAFE Banking Act that managed to pass the House, but still awaits a Senate hearing. It appears that you can add Trump Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to the list of those growing irritated with Congress as he told congressional members how the lack of banking services is impacting the IRS, as The Hill reported:
“This creates significant problems for the IRS,” Mnuchin said at a hearing held by a House Appropriations subcommittee.
Many states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. However, banks have been hesitant to serve marijuana businesses even in states that have legalized use of the drug because they want to avoid violating federal anti-money laundering and illicit finance laws. That has led to cash-only marijuana businesses.
Without taking a stance on how he thinks the federal-state conflict concerning marijuana should be resolved, Mnuchin urged Congress “to deal with this one way or another.”
As The Hill noted, Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo is an obstacle to passing sensible cannabis banking legislation in the Senate. Spread the word and make sure that he hears from plenty of people, especially his constituents.
It’s easy to see that legal cannabis businesses are bringing a lot of benefits to our states and localities. Neighborhoods are being revitalized, jobs are being created, tax revenue is being generated, and many ancillary businesses are thriving. Thanks to hardworking employees and resilient entrepreneurs, craft cannabis boutiques like Pendleton’s Kind Leaf are paying competitive wages and giving back to their local communities.
It is rather remarkable what small cannabis businesses have been able to accomplish with one hand tied behind their backs. We have the opportunity to provide more of a fair playing field by helping pass the bipartisan SAFE cannabis banking bill that currently awaits a fair vote in the United States Senate.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE) overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives and currently sits in the Senate, held up by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, the Banking Committee chair. SAFE is a common sense proposal that will merely allow state-regulated cannabis businesses access to all standard banking services. The lead sponsors of the bill recently wrote to Sen. Crapo, urging its passage:
Our bill is about public safety. It does not change the legal status of marijuana and is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and aligning federal banking laws with the decisions states are already making with cannabis.
This is a constructive step forward for our legislative effort and an important step towards making our communities safer and providing regulatory certainty to banks, credit unions, and other firms – many of which are not directly involved in the marijuana industry – which are trying to operate their businesses in a safe and legal way. We stand ready to partner with you and your colleagues, and we look forward to continued progress on this issue.
Senator Crapo has asked for public feedback regarding cannabis banking. Please contact him and spread the word, especially if you live in Idaho or know people that are his constituents. The cannabis community has made great strides, but there are a few hurdles that we need to jump over to fully unlock the potential of our businesses and the cannabis plant. Passing the SAFE Act is one step that we can overcome if we make our voices heard.