Keeping Up with Canada? California Moves Towards State Cannabis Banking.
As most folks know by now, a lack of banking services have forced cannabis businesses, including those legal under state law, to deal predominantly in cash due to continued U.S. banking laws that make it nearly impossible to do business with federally chartered financial institutions. There are a few reasons why Canada, the first G7 nation to end cannabis prohibition, gives a leg up to its cannabis entrepreneurs, and normal access to banking services is one of them. Thankfully, the California Senate has moved forward with some sensible legislation that can help its state-regulated businesses and should add pressure on Congress to recognize the will of the people and legalize banking for state-licensed cannabis businesses. CNBC reports:
Under the state legislation, which was approved by a vote of 35 to 1, private banks or credit unions can apply for a limited-purpose state charter so they can provide depository services to licensed cannabis businesses. The measure, Senate Bill 51, still requires approval of the Assembly and California Gov. Gavin Newsom to become law.
“It’s hard to imagine an industry that at this point is as large as, like, craft beer that does not have banking as we have come to know it,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a national marijuana reform organization. He said the legal marijuana industry lacks access to commercial banking services available to other industries, including payroll, loans and deposit needs.
“As policymakers, we have a duty to further the will of the voters while protecting the public safety of our constituents,” California Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg said last month when introducing SB 51. “This measure is by no means the ultimate solution, but it’s just one small step in the right direction to get some of this money off the streets and into bank accounts.”
Hopefully, this sensible banking legislation will have smooth sailing through the California General Assembly. Governor Newsom, who spoke at an International Cannabis Business Conference reception a few years ago, is certainly expected to sign the bill that should be supported by everyone, including those that oppose legalization as forcing cannabis businesses to use only cash encourages tax evasion and endangers our neighborhoods.
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