Cannabis industry pushes for banking reforms before midterms

The cannabis industry is pushing to get banking reforms done before the midterms in November due to the concern that Republicans may take the House and/or Senate and be less likely to push reforms through. Though some Republicans support these banking reforms that would give cannabis businesses access to banking services, the industry sees Democrats as more reliable allies when it comes to this issue.

“There is certainly momentum building around trying to get something done this year in the Senate. On both the Republican and Democratic side we’re seeing consensus for SAFE Banking as being the piece of legislation that could pass,” Curaleaf CEO Joe Bayern said. “We’re trying to be practical about how we get something passed this year.”

Josh Glasstetter, a spokesperson for the U.S. Cannabis Council, told Cannabis News Box that they’re confident they can get banking reforms done
this year.

“Americans are looking to President Biden and Congressional leaders to deliver on their pledges around cannabis and criminal justice reform. The SAFE Banking Act has strong bipartisan support, including 9 Republican co-sponsors in the Senate, and committed backing from its bipartisan House champions, Reps. Ed Perlmutter and David Joyce,” Glasstetter said.

Glasstetter said it’s not easy to get these kinds of things done, but they’re hopeful they can make it happen. He said the bill has already passed in the House and just needs to pass in the Senate. He believes it will pass in the Senate once it’s introduced.

“The cannabis banking status quo affects the entire industry, but not in equal measures. Large, well-capitalized companies have found workarounds to secure access to banking services and capital, but they typically have to pay a premium compared to non-cannabis businesses of their size,” Glasstetter said. “Meanwhile small businesses, including most minority and veteran cannabis entrepreneurs, struggle to secure even basic banking services.”

Banking reform would be a way to level the playing field, Glasstetter said, and it would go a long way toward normalizing cannabis in the financial sector. It’s not safe for cannabis businesses to be operating totally in cash, he said, and that’s one of the main reasons banking reforms are so needed. The Senate is currently preoccupied with confirming a Supreme Court nominee, but the cannabis industry is hoping banking reforms will be introduced in the Senate in the not-too-distant future.