Lawmakers Consider Easing Access to Banking Services for Cannabis Industry
In an open hearing titled "Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives," witnesses testified about the major financial issues that cannabis producers and sellers face in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal.
Although 33 states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 11 have legalized recreational use, banks that cooperate with cannabis companies in those states risk violating federal law. This makes it difficult for cannabis manufacturers to use basic banking services such as depositing receipts or accepting credit-card payments.
The hearing is “an important step toward the federal government waking up to the reality that the cannabis issue is not going away and needs action,” said Senator Cory Gardner. The senator argues that despite the proactivity at the state level, the federal government has failed to respond. "The cannabis issue is not going away and needs action,” he said.
The hearing came after the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held its own hearing related to pot legislation. At about the same time, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Senator Kamala Harris announced plans to introduce a federal bill that would decriminalize cannabis.
This legal uncertainty is not only a problem for cannabis companies and financial institutions, it also makes it difficult for individual states to collect taxes.
Advocates, lawmakers, and banks have rallied behind the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would enable banks and credit unions to provide services to the cannabis industry. The bill was introduced in March and has 206 co-sponsors.
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