WASHINGTON, DC – During a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee meeting last week, a bill was deliberated that aims to provide equal financing opportunities for cannabis business owners, placing them on par with businesses in other industries.
According to WSB-TV, the “Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2023,″ or SAFE Banking Act, achieved significant support from both ends of the aisle in the House and Senate. However, cannabis business owners still face roadblocks whenever they attempted to access basic banking needs.
“Without full access to the banking and payment system, legal cannabis businesses are forced to operate in the shadows. They can’t access SBA loans and know that even if they try to apply for a bank loan, they may go through all the costs and efforts only to be denied,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
“To be clear, banks will not be forced to provide services to these businesses,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “It simply creates a safe space for both the financial institutions and the legal cannabis industry.”
Proponents of the Cannabis industry contend that the prevalence of cash transactions within the sector creates a more favorable environment for criminal activities.
“Keeping this multi-billion-dollar industry largely off the books and largely in cash is a criminal organization’s dream because there’s absolutely no oversight and transparency,” said Morgan Fox, Political Director for NORML.
Michael Correia, Director of Government Relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association, believes that addressing banking needs is only the beginning when it comes to enhancing conditions for the cannabis industry, proponents emphasize that Congress should also streamline tax rules and interstate regulations to further facilitate its progress.
“It’s a lot harder to run from regulators and have money laundering when you have banking services because it’s not a cash environment. It would give a layer of security,” Correia insists.
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