The STATES Act is currently the best chance at getting banking for cannabis retailers
Marijuana is one of the most rigorously overseen industries. Yet, it has no financial infrastructure. Imagine: Legal cannabis is a $10 billion industry doing every single transaction in cash. Cannabis businesses can’t bank like other businesses, because most major banks consider the industry risky — even though numerous states have legalized marijuana in some form, it’s still an illegal substance in the eyes of the federal government. Any bank that does decide to take on marijuana business could be charged with “aiding and abetting” a federal crime.
This leaves cannabis business owners with no choice other than to deal in mostly cash, which creates public safety issues. Delivery drivers, like those who work for WeedMaps and greenRush, have an increased risk of being targeted for burglary. It’s no wonder cannabis dispensaries often have electric fences and security rooms to vet potential customers. The answer may seem simple: remove cash from the equation. But the question is far more complex: How is the cannabis industry ever going to get big banks to be comfortable handling their business?
That’s where the STATES Act comes in — a bill that would require the federal government to honor decisions made by states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana. Since the bill was introduced in June, cannabis startups have increasingly branched out from the familiarity of the grow room to the halls of Congress, hiring lobbyists and providing other financial support to make the case.
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