Top Cops Push Pot Banking Bill
Until the 1990s, when marijuana laws began to loosen, getting arrested for possession of pot in some states could carry a sentence of several years in prison. As a teenager in Massachusetts during the Nixon-Carter era, I saw friends get thrown around hoosegow just for holding a few joints.
But these days, even the nation’s top cops are calling for the standardization of marijuana laws.
Recent example: Three state attorneys general and the senior attorney in Washington, DC sent a letter on April 1 (no, that was not an April Fool’s joke) to congressional leaders, stating their strong support for a legislation that would protect banks that serve state-legal cannabis markets from being penalized by federal regulators.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) is the primary sponsor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the House, while Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) are sponsoring the version from their room. Both were reintroduced last month with sizable bipartisan cosponsor rosters.
As Representative Perlmutter puts it, “Thousands of employees and businesses across the country have been forced to manage heaps of money for too long.”
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser (D) led the new letter. His following tweet sums up the initiative:
The group’s letter states:
“To address an untenable status quo and recognize the realities on the ground, we strongly urge the House of Representatives and the Senate to swiftly adopt and act in accordance with the SAFE Banking Act. The ability of our states to protect public safety and properly regulate this new and growing industry depends on Congress passing this vital legislation.
“Without access to traditional financial services, [state-legal marijuana businesses] operate exclusively or primarily in cash, making these businesses targets of criminal activity and hampering efforts to ensure regulatory and tax compliance and track financial flows. This status quo, a growing multibillion-dollar national market without access to national banking systems, is untenable. “
The Republican Attorneys General of North Dakota and Ohio, as well as the Democratic Attorney General of Washington, DC, joined Weiser in signing the letter.
Don’t be afraid of the (sinister) grim reaper …
The House passed the Marijuana Banking Bill in the previous session of Congress, but it stalled in the Senate when the House was under the control of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is ardently anti-marijuana .
McConnell, who proudly dubbed himself “The Grim Reaper” for his ability to block popular Democratic bills, is currently in the minority. Now that pro-marijuana Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the majority leader, the SAFE Act faces a much better chance of passage. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill if it reaches his office.
SAFE would help solve the cash flow problems of the marijuana industry, by allowing canna companies more open access to financial services. These are not just loans. Without access to banking services, marijuana businesses lack the capacity to process credit card payments, deposit money, write supplier checks and other functions they need to stay. viable businesses.
Marijuana companies also face hassle with filing their taxes. Unlike most US businesses, which pay electronically or by check, most marijuana product companies are required to pay their federal and state taxes in cash.
Banks are reluctant to make financial transactions with cannabis companies as pot remains federally banned. Bankers are wary of unforeseen legal responsibilities. Lenders are inherently cautious and worried about a possible regulatory backlash against the pot. This dilemma highlights the industry’s need for legislation to bring marijuana into the mainstream of finance.
SAFE would also undermine the growing black market for marijuana sales and improve the financial transparency of the industry in legal cannabis states. The banking industry and senior IRS officials also support the adoption of SAFE.
With cannabis-friendly Democrats in charge of the White House and both Houses of Congress, SAFE’s passage seems assured. The support expressed last week for senior law enforcement officials is the icing on the cake.
When SAFE finally takes effect, stocks of quality marijuana will likely increase. Looking to make money on these marijuana trends? Click here for our report on specific pot investments.