Senators from the state of Colorado are calling for cannabis banking reforms to be included in soon-to-be-enacted defense legislation. The senators — Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper — wrote a letter in which they argued that the banking act’s language needed to be adopted in the final bill to be advanced to the president’s desk.
This comes after members of the Senate Armed Services Committee also penned a letter asking lawmakers to include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (“SAFE”) Banking Act in the National Defense Authorization Act.
The letter from the Colorado senators, which was sent to Senate committee leadership, stated that state-licensed marijuana businesses could not accept debit or credit cards, use a payroll provider, receive or make electronic payments or even write checks, in the absence of federally-approved banking services. The senators noted that this was a public safety risk for communities as it invited burglaries, robberies, tax evasion and theft.
The letter also highlighted how the lack of marijuana banking affected the state of Colorado, which was the first state in the country to fully legalize cannabis. In the letter, the legislators explained how cannabis legalization had had a significant impact on Colorado’s economy, bringing in more than $1 billion in tax revenue and creating thousands of employment opportunities. They also cited data showing that marijuana businesses in Denver accounted for less than 1% of local businesses but made up 10% of reported burglaries in the 2012–2016 period.
In addition, the senators asserted that cash-only industries complicated revenue tracking for purposes of regulatory compliance and taxation. Furthermore, they highlighted how the all-cash model disadvantaged the industry as it made it difficult to access loans at reasonable rates. They explained that a lack of access to capital limited the ability of small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs to enter the burgeoning industry. Bennet and Hickenlooper noted that this primarily affected entrepreneurs from underserved communities, such as minorities, women and veterans.
The senators asserted that the inclusion of the banking act in the defense legislation would increase access to the marijuana industry for individuals who were underrepresented, promote public safety and economic growth, and align state and federal laws.
In their conclusion, the senators maintained that Congress had a responsibility to address public safety concerns and inequities that existed because of current legislations. The SAFE Banking Act has been amended and approved in the House a number of times but is yet to advance in the Senate.
It would be beneficial for the entire cannabis industry, including sector companies such as American Cannabis Partners, if banking reform was enacted federally since the activities of marijuana companies would become a little easier once federally licensed banks can freely accept these companies as clients.
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