Congress urged to allow legal marijuana businesses access to bank services

Bank officials and others urged Congress on Wednesday to fully open the doors of the U.S. banking system to the state-legal marijuana industry, a change supporters say would reduce the risk of crime and resolve a litany of challenges for cannabis companies, from paying taxes to getting a loan.

California Treasurer Fiona Ma, whose state is home to the nation’s largest legal marijuana market, called the proposed so-called SAFE Banking Act a critical step for the rapidly expanding industry.

Gregory Deckard, who spoke on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said the cloud of legal uncertainty was inhibiting access to banks while creating safety hazards for businesses.

The proposal, he said, “would offer the needed clarity” for more financial institutions to welcome the marijuana industry as customers.

But others had concerns.

Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri said the proposal would create confusion while marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

With the banking legislation, “we are putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

Legalization advocates have reason to celebrate that the hearing simply took place at all before the Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee. The proposal, or similar versions, have languished for years.

– Associated Press

5 comments on “Congress urged to allow legal marijuana businesses access to bank services
  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Thank you, Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, for stating the obvious: repeal the Schedule I “marihuana” sham first. Now that we could “celebrate”! Congress could be done with it in a matter of hours. You lawmakers are 48 YEARS late in doing your jobs for We the People.

    Articles in Marijuana/Hemp Industry Daily make it abundantly clear that there will be wide-ranging, positive effects on the entire U.S. economy when the Schedule I nightmare ceases to exist.

    The “marihuana” fraud never belonged on our books. In 1970 Congress made a colossal mistake in passing that classification, so bad that many doubted its legitimacy. In fact, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse was established precisely to resolve those doubts. The commission’s call for “decriminalization” fell way too short, but it did provide cover for individual states and brave voters to take more aggressive actions down the road.

    It’s definitely time to crank up the commercial power of cannabis, by repealing the Schedule I tyranny. Please do this, Congress. Pass the “420” bills!

    Reply
    • The Mad Yooper on

      Lawrence I could not agree with you more. With one caveat. We should be Justifiably indignant and demand the best government that money can buy do what we the people are paying them for. ACT IN OUR BEST INTEREST!!!
      We need to take this band of thieves to the wood shed, or , should I say ballot box. We need to organize and take the fight to them. It is our right to have the opportunity to succeed. They are trying to deny it to us. We need to fight for it like people who know it’s value.

      Reply
  2. Paul on

    I live near DC and attended this hearing on Wednesday and I have two takeaways:

    1. Republicans, specifically Luetkemeyer, said the simple answer to the federal/state dichotomy of laws was de-scheduling cannabis in the CSA, which he stated was the purview of the Justice Department and the Attorney General. I think everyone who has studied the laws and complexities therein can agree with this, but the problem with it is that it isn’t the job of the representatives from these states (whose voters have approved cannabis in some form) to pass off this responsibility to a federal agency. And as it happens, Missouri just approved MMJ on Nov. 6 2018, Luetkemeyer’s home state. From the tone of the questions asked by Luetkemeyer and others, “Have any of you (committee hearing witnesses) ever asked the AG or Dept. of Justice personally to de-schedule cannabis?”, I get the feeling that they would oppose even that route of reform.

    In fact, as Andy Barr (R-KY) was trying to make the point that the SAFE Act would not solve ALL federal/state law conflicts, Denny Heck (D-WA) interrupted him by asking him if he would support de-scheduling cannabis from the CSA, and Barr said “no”. So, even though some of these representatives make themselves look smart by deflecting to the Justice department, they are in fact trying to avoid being held accountable by way of a vote.

    2. The man who was representing the SAM non-profit (Smart Approach to Marijuana) on the panel of witnesses, a Jonathan Talcott, a partner at Nelson Mullins, represented exactly the calcified logic of sixty years ago, stating that cannabis is the same as heroin, that recent studies have shown it to lead to using harder drugs, that “everyone in this room doing business with a cannabis company is committing a federal felony”, “the black market is hiding under the cover of legitimate cannabis markets,” and “this is not a public health issue, it’s a banking issue.”

    During a break in the hearing for a floor vote, Talcott got into a heated argument with a guy seated next to me, telling him he “was only peddling in cannabis for the money, just like everyone else in the room.” He tried to add credibility to his disdain for all things cannabis by arguing he had moral standing because his sister died from “pot”. Of course he also mentioned she had a heart attack, but everyone knows she really died of pot, like exactly no one has ever done.

    I’ve done some preliminary research on SAM and it was founded by Kevin Sabet and Patrick Kennedy D-RI, so I don’t understand why anyone would have such an uninformed and caustic guy representing their organization at the federal level. Their website (learnaboutsam.org) speaks specifically about being against big tobacco and big marijuana, and has the following talking points:

    • The move to legalize marijuana is really a move to commercialize marijuana for profit. It is today’s version of Big Tobacco, and it should be discouraged.

    • We are moving way too fast to legalize in this country without taking into account the costs of such a policy. We need to slow down. The only people who benefit from a rush to legalize are a small number of investors.

    • Today’s marijuana is much more potent than in the past – with pot edibles, candies, cookies, ice creams, and waxes being up to 99% THC. Compare that to 5% Woodstock Weed.

    • More minority kids are being arrested in Colorado for pot since legalization, and car crashes related to marijuana, young adult use, and workplace positives are skyrocketing in legal states.

    • We do not need to legalize in order to reform the criminal justice system. We can remove criminal penalties, expunge records, and offer justice without commercializing today’s highly pure THC pot products.

    Make of that what you will, the opposition has paid for expensive – and offensive – representation and they don’t appear interested in a logical, science-based discussion of the merits of cannabis in addressing the real medical remedies available to sufferers of ADHD, Alzheimers, PTSD, nausea, schizophrenia and pain.

    Lastly, although this hearing is a good sign and six years in the making, it will be difficult to get it through the Republican congress, so I’m not hopeful that this will pass this year.

    Reply
    • Chris Martin on

      Thanks for that representation.

      I really hope someone makes a compelling argument as to why the banking and tax environment is perpetuating the black market and we move away from this tired and misleading “public health” hypocrisy. I think it needs to be focused on grass roots education of consumers as opposed to often futile efforts to convert some of these calcified political positions to reason. It really will come down to the ballot box and an educated electorate; there are too many entrenched interests handcuffing our so-called leaders as it stands.

      Reply

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