Operating in the legal cannabis space is no mean feat. Due to the plant’s federal status as a controlled substance, marijuana businesses have to deal with a lot of issues that players in other industries don’t even have to think of. For starters, most banks refuse to work with marijuana businesses in fear of federal reprisals, forcing the businesses to operate on a largely cash-only basis. This makes accounting and filing taxes extremely cumbersome and makes the business prime targets for criminals. For quite a while, industry stakeholders have argued for some kind of policy or regulation that would allow these companies to access banking services. The only lawmaker who heeded the call was Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (“SAFE”) Banking Act to the House of Representatives in March 2019. The legislation would prohibit federal banking regulators from penalizing banks that provided financial services to legal cannabis businesses. Despite the potential benefits it could provide to the industry, the SAFE Banking Act did not gain the traction it needed to advance. While the House has approved some form of the SAFE Banking Act, it failed to advance past the Senate in any form even when the Democrats had majority votes. Perlmutter, who recently announced that he would be retiring from Congress come next election, says this has left him “pretty irritated.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has consistently stood in the way of his bipartisan legislation. Schumer has been working on a federal legalization bill with federal lawmakers for some time now, and he does not want banking legislation before comprehensive cannabis reform is enacted.
CannabisNewsWire, 01/24/2022 16:20:00