September 25th, 2019 was a historic moment for Marijuana merchants and cannabis lovers when the House of Representatives—for the first time in US history— voted to allow cannabis enterprises access to banks.
The move is a significant milestone in the race towards decriminalizing the marijuana industry and giving cannabis retailers an equal chance in the marketplace.
To the surprise of a few opponents, Congress almost unanimously voted in support of the SAFE Banking Act.
This proposal would give state-certified cannabis businesses unrestricted access to banks as well as other financial institutions, and also enable customers to pay for legal cannabis with their credit cards.
The move to pass the bill was 321-103 and was fueled by hot debates on the house when a cohort of cannabis-savvy Representatives laid some facts on the table.
“States are on the move; we are the foot-draggers,” said Rep. Earl Blumenaur (D-OR). “We are looking at a $10 billion sector and growing. And the expansion is being triggered by the increasing demands among citizens and states. We need to be proactive.”
According to the SAFE Banking Act’s main sponsor, Ed Perlmutter (R-CO), the proposal seeks to protect State rights because it will improve public safety and reduce circulation of money in marijuana black markets.
The law will protect banks that onboard CBD merchant account holders from existing federal laws related to War on Drugs. Existing laws allow judges to charge banks that serve cannabis merchants with crimes of money laundering, and the consequences can be as severe as a bank losing its FDIC deposit insurance.
These unforgiving laws have led to a negative attitude towards cannabis businesses and left merchants with no option but to deal with cash. But carrying cash makes them a target for burglary and leaves a slight loophole for tax defaulting.
Luckily, reason is rising above mindset and more leaders are changing their attitude towards the industry.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden form Oregon said it makes no sense to have retailers walk around with loads of cash because the system has denied them access to banks.
The congress approval of bill is history in the making as it marks the first time the House of Representatives have provided regulations that protect for state-certified recreational cannabis.
It is also one of the cannabis legislations receiving the most support across US political divisions because many conservatives, including the likes of the free-market R-Street Institute say the time has come for banks to onboard cannabis merchants.
The SAFE Banking bill now awaits the senate approval. Proponents believe it has been modified in all aspects including wording to appeal to leading Republican senators and protect cannabis business.
All eyes are on the Senate now, as cannabis merchants wait for this decisive moment in their line of business.
Pot-legal states are positive the law will be ready for implementation soon after the Senate has spoken.