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Will Cannabis Banking Reform Happen Soon?

By FindLaw Staff on April 05, 2019 1:07 PM

You know how the line at the bank gets longer on Friday? That's because it's pay day, and everybody wants to put money in and get money out.

The same thing is happening in the cannabis industry. Pot growers, sellers and related business can't wait to get to the bank.

The problem for the industry is, federal regulations are pushing them back to the end of line.

Waiting for Regulation

Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, says it's time for banking reform. He claims U.S. lawmakers are under pressure from all directions.

"Rapid shifts in public opinion and a rising number of states with legal medical and adult-use cannabis sales have laid bare an obvious need to update our banking laws to meet the age of regulated cannabis markets," he wrote for TechCrunch.

There are signs. In February, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing to discuss challenges facing financial institutions with marijuana businesses. In March, the House Financial Services Committee voted to advance 420-friendly legislation to the floor.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act would provide safe harbor to banks serving state-legal cannabis businesses. It has broad support, including 108 co-sponsors in the House.

High Legal Support

In addition to the support from lawmakers, 19 state attorneys general asked Congress last year to make similar laws. They said state-legal cannabis companies should be allowed to use the same banking services as other legal industries.

Americans have voted to legalize marijuana in most states. Thirty-three states have legalized medical marijuana, and ten states have made it legal for recreational use.

According to reports, legal marijuana is a $55 billion industry. That's a lot of money to be circulating outside financial institutions.

Some lawyers have solutions for that, but imagine the lines when federal regulators make it legal to deposit the money in the bank.

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