Some key lawmakers and advocates of legalization argue that passing cannabis banking reform before federal legalization focused on justice will exclusively benefit large businesses — but a group of small marijuana business owners aren’t buying it, and they claim that policy change can actually help support social justice efforts.
The US Cannabis Council (USCC) hosted several black marijuana entrepreneurs at an event called “UNSAFE Banking & Cannabis: The Real-Life Impact on Public Safety and Social Equity” on Thursday. Participants responded to concerns expressed by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and others who resisted advances in legislation that simply protects banks that do business with state legal marijuana companies while broader legislation focused on justice remains pending.
USCC CEO Stephen Hawkins said that while stakeholders are aware of the concerns raised by Booker and others, the current lack of banking access to the cannabis business is “creating a red effect” that allows the industry’s largest multi-state operators to overcome financial hurdles while excluding small businesses, not Especially those run by members of the communities most affected by the criminalization of cannabis.
“We are still forced by the harsh reality of being denied access to basic financial services,” he said. “This posed significant threats to public safety – businesses across the country faced threats of having to deal, specifically, with cash.”
Hawkins, who also serves as executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “As a result of the lack of financial services, we are creating a red effect, whereby larger companies — because they have access, in general, to financial services at a higher cost but are able to get some capital — are able to thrive.”
There has been some tension within the advocacy world over which reform Congress should follow first.
On the one hand, there is a file A bipartisan bill has passed the House five times now In a form that would simply prevent financial institutions from being penalized by federal regulators working with state legal cannabis firms. Advocates believed she would have the votes to pass in the Senate, if only leaders allowed her to advance. On the other hand, there are blanket rationing bills – like those that were issued recently The House of Representatives acquitted the Judicial Committee and a separate proposal from Booker and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) – which do not necessarily enjoy the same level of bipartisan support.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), sponsor of the Safe Banking and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act, and other lawmakers argue that Congress should enact a more modest reform as soon as possible because broader legalization builds support. The congressman has made it clear that doing so is essential to public safety, as marijuana companies are currently targets of crime because they are forced to operate on a largely cash basis.
Perlmutter, who was originally scheduled to speak at the USCC event before congressional standoffs intercepted scheduling, separately from Marijuana Moment Thursday that “cannabis-related companies – large and small – and their employees are still forced to operate at the highest-level business of The amount of cash being targeted by violent criminals and endangering communities and individuals.”
“The bottom line: The SAFE Banking Act is the best opportunity to enact some kind of federal cannabis reform in this term. By including SAFE Banking in the final NDAA, we can protect our financial system, reduce public safety risks in our communities, and help support Veteran business and minorities now,” referring to the fact that its legislation more recently passed the House of Representatives as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“Activating SAFE banking is just the tip of the iceberg and will help break the deadlock and pave the way for broader and more comprehensive cannabis reform and create a safer and more equitable industry,” said Perlmutter.
There are plenty of examples of lawmakers in Congress who share this perspective, but others – particularly on the Senate side – have insisted that legislation be passed first in order to ensure that social justice is prioritized.
For example, Schumer said last month that he and his colleagues working to advance the federal marijuana legalization bill have an “agreement” that the agency Banking legislation will not address cannabis In order to offer more comprehensive reforms.
However, he said he is open to exploring an alternative way to advance banking reform if lawmakers are able to incorporate the legislation’s social justice provisions – such as repealing previous cannabis convictions – into the NDAA legislation that the Chamber will soon adopt.
The senator has previously expressed an unwillingness to push marijuana banking reform first — including in… Interview with Marijuana Moment in April—But these recent comments about a “deal” to block financial services reform have put the situation in the harshest terms yet.
For his part, Booker said that He “will set myself” to prevent any other senators who seek to pass banking marijuana legislation before the authority approves a comprehensive cannabis reform.
Marijuana business owners understand the senator’s argument, but have challenged the idea that passing SAFE Banking would only help broad-based stakeholders.
At Thursday’s event, a California cannabis operator named Alfonso Plant Jr. addressed Booker’s concerns and said he runs a “small business, and I need a bank…if I have to pay a bill and it’s $15,000, I have to get $15,000 money orders.” From three different post offices – maybe four because you’re only going to get so many money orders at one time.”
– USCannabisCncl October 29 2021
Another participant, Leo Bridgewater Sr., who serves as Director of Outreach to Minority Veterans for Medical Marijuana, said it’s getting to where “Senator Booker comes from as far away as [black people] We built this industry on our backs in our lives.”
“So you’re going to lock us up, turn around, make a profit from this and then lock me up? No, you’ve got that part,” he said. “But then there’s the flip side, in terms of being an entrepreneur and being an activist.”
“Nobody’s saying Senator Booker’s reservations don’t matter,” said Precious Osagie Erese, COO of Roll Up Life.
She said, “As someone who deals with a problem when we talk about how to include more black and brown people in this space, I always say we just need to get started. We just need to get started, and we’re running late.”
– USCannabisCncl October 29 2021
The USCC, which hosted Thursday’s event with small business owners, also includes among its members many of the industry’s largest multinational operators.
Rodney Hood, Board Member of the National Credit Union, I wrote it in an editorial titled “The Marijuana Moment” this month That rationing is inevitable—and it makes more sense for government agencies to preempt a policy change to solve banking complexities.
Meanwhile, an Internal Revenue Service official said this month that The agency would like to “get paid”, It would be beneficial if the marijuana industry could reach banks as well as companies in other legal markets.
Federal data shows that Many financial institutions are still hesitant The cannabis companies do treat themselves as customers, however, which is likely due to the fact that the plant is a strictly controlled substance under federal law.