Bill enables cannabis business banking access

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently introduced a bill designed to ensure legal cannabis businesses can access banking services.

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The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 would solve a key logistical and public safety problem in states that have legalized medicinal or recreational cannabis.

“Conflicting federal and state marijuana laws make it difficult for legitimate businesses to use the basic financial services they need access to and this bipartisan legislation gives them that access they need,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who joined Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in leading a delegation supporting the measure, said. “We must also take into account the risk to public safety as these businesses are being forced to carry around bags of money to pay for their employees and rent. Legal businesses should not be treated like this, and I’m glad that Republicans and Democrats are working together to address this issue.”

Authorities said cannabis businesses currently operating under state laws that have legalized medicinal or recreational cannabis have been mostly denied access to the banking system because banks providing them services can be prosecuted under federal law.

“Forcing legal businesses to operate in all-cash is dangerous for our communities,” Merkley said. “It’s absurd that cannabis business owners in Oregon have to shuttle around gym bags full of cash to take care of their taxes or pay their employees. Operating in cash is an invitation to robbery, money laundering, and organized crime. This is a public safety issue, and I hope that this will be the Congress when we build a bipartisan consensus to put this common-sense fix into law.”

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