Access to marijuana banking services increasing over pandemic levels

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The number of financial institutions actively providing services to state-legal marijuana businesses increased to 755 as of Sept. 30, 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest U.S. government data.

The total included 553 banks and 202 credit unions, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) reported.

During the coronavirus pandemic, numbers slid from 729 in January 2020 to a low of 678 in September 2020 and again in February 2021.

Despite the increase, industry officials say federal cannabis banking reform such as the SAFE Banking Act is needed to ensure that financial institutions can serve state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal.

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A survey earlier this year by Portland, Oregon-based Whitney Economics found that 72% of the nearly 400 cannabis business respondents said that lack of banking or financial services constituted their top challenge.

Other concerns were market volatility, competition from big business and taxes.

Only 42% of the respondents said they were turning a profit.

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeff.smith@mjbizdaily.com.