ABA encourages cannabis banking reform

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During recent testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, the American Bankers Association (ABA) encouraged the Senate to advance legislation providing cannabis-related businesses access to the regulated banking system.

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“Because cannabis continues to be illegal at the federal level, handling funds associated with cannabis businesses can be deemed money laundering,” Joanne Sherwood, president and CEO of Citywide Banks in Denver, Colo., and chair of the Colorado Bankers Association, said while testifying on behalf of ABA. “That federal / state divide has particularly severe repercussions for banks and communities like mine, where the cannabis industry is fully operational, but it also impacts banks in every state.”

Sherwood maintains with limited access to banking services available, large amounts of cash remain on-site in many of the cannabis-related businesses, creating significant safety concerns for the communities where they are located.

“Providing a mechanism for the cannabis industry to access the regulated banking system would help those businesses and their surrounding communities by reducing the high volume of cash on hand, reducing instances of cash-motivated crime,” Sherwood said.

The SAFE Banking Act is currently before the Senate Banking Committee for consideration, with proponents maintaining it would specify proceeds from a state-licensed cannabis business would not be considered unlawful under federal money laundering statutes or any other federal law.

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