The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to pass the SAFE Banking Bill — legislation that, if made into law, would let cannabis businesses and consumers enjoy the same financial stability as other industries.
The legislation, which passed the House by a vote of 321-103, still has to clear the Senate before it becomes law, but the move is a big step toward the normalization of the cannabis industry.
Some of the key ways it would help:
It improves the industry’s financial transparency
Currently, financial institutions that have dealings with the cannabis industry face potential prosecution in the U.S. “If you do business with the cannabis industry, you can be liable for breaking money laundering laws,” Michael Correia, director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association, told the Rolling Stone. Without access to banking services, many cannabis companies have had no choice but to operate on a hardly practical cash-only basis.
It reduces cash-motivated crimes
Without being forced to keep large amounts of cash on-hand, businesses would be infinitely safer when trying to conduct legal transactions.
“I can’t for the life of me figure out why people would want to have folks walk around practically with wheelbarrows full of cash,” said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon.
Customers can pay with credit
The greatest benefit to consumers would be the ease with which you can make purchases. Buying cannabis would quickly become as easy and natural as any other product in a store.
It makes tax collection more efficient
Not surprisingly, it’s easier for companies to pay their taxes if they are dealing with lines on a spreadsheet and not briefcases full of cash. With banks shielded from prosecution, far fewer business would run afoul of the tax man.
It offers protection for hemp growers
Advocates felt it was necessary to include hemp in the legislation despite the fact it was legalized in last year’s farm bill. This would hopefully reduce the number of cases of growers who are still struggling for access to financial services.
It would help businesses grow
Small companies would now be able to access funding through traditional bank channels, allowing them to scale upwards with greater ease. The bill provides more access to capital for cannabis businesses of all sizes, which will support social equity in our industry,” said Curaleaf CEO Joseph Lusardi.“We applaud the members of the House for their leadership in passing this important bill with bipartisan support and look forward to gaining support in the Senate.”
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Written by David Yasvinski