Congress looks into allowing banking for marijuana businesses
U.S. lawmakers are once again exploring efforts to allow legal cannabis businesses access to banks.
The Democratic-controlled House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday held a hearing to discuss the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019, also known as the SAFE Banking Act, reports Yahoo Finance.
“We’re trying to examine how outdated banking regulations on the federal level are hindering reform on the state level when it comes to marijuana,” said Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, chairman of the Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions subcommittee. “Hopefully, the hearing will allow us to ascertain what steps we can take to encourage economic growth and public safety in that space.”
Cannabis use is legal for either medical or recreational purposes in over 30 states, although banks still won’t extend their services to legitimate businesses due to the federal classification of marijuana.
“Simply excluding legal state cannabis activity from the banking sector has not prevented the growth and spread of this industry, but providing access to the banking system could help facilitate public safety, streamline tax payments, and enable effective oversight in the states where voters have chosen to embrace cannabis legalization,” reads a statement from the American Bankers Association submitted to the House Financial Services Committee ahead of the hearing.
The lack of banking services has forced many business owners to risk getting robbed by stashing large amounts of cash, or to resort to money laundering.
Rachel Pross, Chief Risk Officer of Maps Credit Union, is scheduled to testify to Congress, as Maps began to serve the cannabis industry due to these safety issues.
“Anytime you have a cash-based industry you’re going to have an increased risk of crime in the community – theft of local businesses,” Pross said to Yahoo. “We serve the whole chain from retailers to growers to laboratories, processors. And in just the last two years we’ve taken in over $500 million in cash off the streets.”
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