Cannabis banking reform has come to Capitol Hill. The Senate has tentatively scheduled a hearing that would address the lack of access that cannabis businesses have when it comes to banking and financial services. The Federal Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs made the decision and it was aimed at finding a solution for the banking problem that many legal cannabis businesses face. 

As it currently stands, legal cannabis locations like retail stores and dispensaries can only accept cash, due to the continued prohibition of the plant at the federal level. This bill could potentially change that – and finally begin to put legal cannabis businesses on par with every other legitimate business. 

The hearing will be held before the Senate on July 23rd, called “Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives”. The hearing will include testimony from sponsors of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 (S. 1200) and representatives of the legal cannabis, financial, and credit union industries.

Due to ridiculous current federal law and regulations, any money received by legal cannabis businesses is still seen as drug money and money laundering. This means that any money received from legal cannabis in any state is still viewed as a federal crime. This has forced dispensaries and legal cannabis retailers to only deal in cash. Accepting only cash brings about a plethora of security issues, both at the location and in transport to banks. 

There are several witnesses who are ready to testify at the hearing. They include Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the sponsor of the SAFE Act, and Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado who is one of the 31 Senate co-sponsors of the bill. It’s great to see that lawmakers are taking action in support of the legitimate legal cannabis industry. More should follow suit, as it’s not appropriate for cannabis businesses to have to live in the shadows any longer. 

This hearing will hopefully address these issues, and bring legal cannabis businesses up to speed with those in other industries. Liquor stores clearly don’t have to deal with this nonsense, so why should legal cannabis stores have to? 

What do you think? Will this hearing lead to better financial access for legal cannabis locations? Or is it just more smoke and mirrors from politicians who like to hear themselves talk?