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Federal Money to Be Accessible by Legal Cannabis?

I'm sure processors and producers can relate when I say banking in the cannabis industry can be, more often than not, a daunting task. Fortunately, it seems that legalization and regulation are creating normalization in more areas than one. Slowly but surely, we're starting to see our industry treated as an equal among other businesses. 

A large potential win for cannabis is in the words, as Jeff Merkley introduced a bill on Wednesday, May 17th that would enable cannabis businesses access to banks that have federal backing. Titled the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2017, cannabis businesses that have previously been declined services will be offered the following protection from federal regulators:

  • Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging a bank from providing financial services to a legitimate state-sanctioned and regulated cannabis business, or an associated business (such as an lawyer or landlord providing services to a legal cannabis business);
  • Terminating or limiting a bank’s federal deposit insurance solely because the bank is providing services to a state-sanctioned cannabis business or associated business
  • Recommending or incentivizing a bank to halt or downgrade providing any kind of banking services to these businesses; or
  • Taking any action on a loan to an owner or operator of a cannabis-related business.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, was initiated not only by Merkley, but Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). 

The bill would require banks to comply with current Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance, while at the same time allowing FinCEN guidance to be streamlined over time as states and the federal government adapt to legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis policies.

Obvioulsy, this would make duffle bag cash payments for taxes a thing of the past, which I'm sure we could all get on board with. 


Tags: New State Rules

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