Tag: SAFE

Oregon Attorney General Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Cannabis Banking Access

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.”

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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.

You can read the entire letter from the 34 attorneys general here.

Cannabis Banking Access a Part of U.S. House Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

The coronavirus pandemic has placed a strain on the United States economy that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and even as businesses start opening back up, there’s no guarantee that customers are going to have the money to shop like they used to or are going to be willing to risk COVID-19 infection by venturing into public spaces as much. Cannabis businesses, deemed essential in legal states across the nation, have been doing good sales numbers, but the many arbitrary obstacles that have stifled the industry remain.

One of the major issues, banking access, could be addressed in the next coronavirus stimulus bill, as Marijuana Moment reports:

House leadership unveiled a coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday that includes provisions to protect banks that service marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators.

Advocates, stakeholders and lawmakers have been pushing for some form of cannabis reform to be inserted into COVID-19 legislation. And this round, they were successful, with the language of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act making the cut.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), chief sponsor of the standalone bill that is being included in the new broad package, previously raised the issue in a Democratic Caucus meeting and said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) supported it.

With national politics being what is is today, there’s no telling if the cannabis banking language will remain in the legislation, or if another coronavirus relief bill will even get passed, but this is a good step in the right direction for the cannabis industry. The lack of ordinary banking services impacts not only cannabis businesses like Kind Leaf, but all of their vendors and employees.

The extra fees and costs then ultimately increase the prices that patients and customers pay. Please contact your representative and then spread the word and have your friends and family do the same. Whether you support cannabis businesses or not, everyone should support their access to ordinary banking services to improve community safety and the ability to pay taxes efficiently.

The American Bar Association Passes Resolutions Supporting Cannabis Banking Rights

No matter your stance on legalization, everyone that wants safe neighborhoods should support legal banking services for state-regulated cannabis businesses. The lack of access to banking services severely hinders the ability of entrepreneurs to conduct business, pay taxes, and expand operations. Along with the despicable 280e IRS tax code, access to normal banking services is a top policy change needed to allow the cannabis industry to thrive. As with most issues, banking reform is needed most by small craft cannabis boutique’s like Kind Leaf, which don’t have the deep pockets of multinational corporations.

Thankfully, we are seeing great momentum for normal banking services for the cannabis industry. The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House of Representatives, awaiting some movement in the Senate. As Marijuana Moment reports, the American Bar Association added its voice to the cause:

The group’s House of Delegates voted in favor of proposals endorsing pending federal legislation to protect banks that service cannabis businesses and calling for a clarification of rules to ensure that lawyers will not be penalized for representing clients in cases concerning state-legal marijuana activity.

Under the banking resolution, 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.”

ABA added that “such legislation should clarify that the proceeds from a transaction involving activities of a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider shall not be considered proceeds from an unlawful activity solely because the transaction involves proceeds from a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider, or because the transaction involves proceeds from legitimate cannabis-related activities.”

It is great to see some allies coming around to help out the cannabis community. Let’s keep the pressure up and momentum going. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is currently the Senate Banking Committee Chair that will determine the fate of the SAFE Act. Please contact him and let him know that you support banking services for cannabis businesses and spread the word.

The SAFE Cannabis Banking Bill Is Alive But Needs Your Help to Pass the Senate

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.