Pot Banking Bill Will Pass In House, Says NYC Congresswoman At Industry Event – Forbes
Professionals in the legal cannabis industry are at an interesting crossroads right now. Despite the fact that a majority of Americans support legalization, according to the most recent Gallup poll and that 33 states and Washington, D.C. have legal medical marijuana markets while 10 states (and D.C.) have recreational markets, many cannabis professionals cannot find banks that will work with them because of the federal illegality. Consequently, many businesses are forced to operate as cash-only operations, making them a target for crime.
It’s a dilemma that legislators in legal states have been trying to address and rectify the past few years as many of their constituents have cannabis businesses. The latest example is the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and the House companion bill, H.R. 1595, introduced in February by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Warren Davidson (R-OH). The proposed bipartisan legislation would prevent federal banking regulators from sanctioning banks for working with legal cannabis businesses. Also, the bill would protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes. In late July, the bill had 31 co-sponsors in the Senate while H.R has 206 co-sponsors. For cannabis professionals, the prospect that they might soon be able to find a bank that will work with them long-term and not cancel their accounts suddenly and without notice, has been very uplifting. Some legislators, too, have adopted a positive outlook toward the SAFE Banking Act, federal illegality notwithstanding.
Speaking at a New York City CannaGather, an industry networking event earlier this week, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) was especially optimistic about the bill. “It’s really one of the most interesting pieces of legislation to watch,” she told the crowd gathered at Soho tech hub Galvanize. “I believe it will pass in the House this year.”
Considering the House has a Democratic majority, Congresswoman Maloney’s assertion is no surprise. It’s the Republican-ruled Senate where the bill could run into some roadblocks. But Maloney who was first elected to Congress in 1992, believes the Senate will also pass it. She did allow that the bill has garnered more Republican support than she and her colleagues thought it would. But it wouldn’t hurt constituents to lobby Senators for their support.
“Building that consensus, being unified in strategy and working to make it happen,” said Maloney, as she outlined what cannabis professionals and proponents need to do to facilitate the passage of the SAFE Banking Act. Still, she did acknowledge the road toward the bill becoming law might be rocky. “It’s very easy to kill something; it’s also very hard to pass [a bill] but I think it will happen,” she underscored.
As cannabis professionals know all too well, the consequences of not being able to work with banks exact a high toll, both psychological and financial, on businesses in the legal market. “It’s very dangerous to have a large amount of cash not banked,” said Maloney. “You can’t move forward unless you protect the investors.”
This article originally appeared here in https://www.forbes.com/sites/irisdorbian/2019/08/22/ot-banking-bill-will-pass-in-house-says-nyc-congresswoman-at-industry-event/