The United States economy is in a freefall because of the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down many sectors of our economy and disrupted our American way of life. With over 17 million more Americans unemployed and retail sales plummeting more in March, than ever before, our nation is facing our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The cannabis industry, considered an essential business sector here in Oregon, and across the nation in medical and legal states, is providing jobs, revenue, and medicinal products, but, thus far, has been locked out of the stimulus benefits available to other businesses.
Fortunately, the exclusion of cannabis businesses may change in the near future as provisions to allow cannabis businesses access to banking services may be included in an upcoming COVID-19 stimulus bill. Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) has stated that such a provision has the support of top congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Marijuana Moment reported:
“I raised this very question to our caucus, to Speaker Nancy Pelosi directly last week, saying, look this is a major employer in Colorado and elsewhere around the country. They have been deemed essential services in many, many states,” Perlmutter said during the town hall call. “They cannot access any of the relief that we are providing for in any of these three packages that we have passed. She said, as did the other leadership members on the call, said she wanted to see it get passed.”
Perlmutter reiterated that the speaker supports his proposal and said the Democratic caucus will “continue to work on it over the next couple weeks as we put these additional packages together.”
“I continue to push for the passage and enactment of the SAFE Banking Act to ensure cannabis and cannabis-related businesses can access the banking system, including access to much-needed financial assistance during times of need such as this COVID-19 pandemic,” Perlmutter told Marijuana Moment. “I’m also focused on ensuring any federal funding for state and local governments remains flexible enough so as not to exclude cannabis businesses in states where they are legal, legitimate businesses.”
Only time will tell if the cannabis industry will finally get access to the banking services that they need and deserve. It is downright shameful and hypocritical for cannabis farmers, processors, labs, and retailers to be deemed essential businesses and risk their lives during a global pandemic while being treated as second-class citizens. Banking access won’t be everything that the cannabis industry needs, but it’s a start.