By Dalton Rosario

Today our 116th Congress met at the first cannabis hearing of the year to discuss the SAFE Banking Act, which aims to draft legislation that provides banks and credit unions with precautionary provisions for handling legitimate cannabis proceeds from licensed businesses without fear of being flagged by the federal government and IRS for money laundering and dealings with illicit criminal activity. This is a major step in ending federal prohibition, as all legal industries require the services of financial institutions, particularly for cash-heavy sectors like the cannabis industry. Not only does this increase the public safety and wellbeing of these businesses, their employees and our communities, but also it creates the necessary transparency for cannabis markets to be taxed, regulated and held accountable for the proceeds of their daily dealings at the state and federal level. Furthermore, by banks investing in local cannabis companies and providing financial resources and services, the cannabis industry will wholly embrace a previously unattainable level of standardization that has been lacking; making cannabis seem less like a favorable market commodity and more like a potential hazard and financial liability for those congressman, governors and state lawmakers who seek to pass pro-cannabis legislation but lack the infrastructure and support from our federal government to do so. 

Local banks require protection in their dealings with cannabis companies, which have been by and large outright denied in their undertakings of standardized services that all other commercial industries have access to across the country. Whether that be in the form of unfavorable cash deposit rates, the inability to request a line of credit or restrictions on filing for annual tax exemptions based on U.S. Code Section 280E. Ending cannabis prohibition is not just administered through statewide legalization, but through policy reformation and legislative provisions impacting all satellite sectors and services surrounding the cash cow commodity that this bustling industry relies on. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, nearly 500 financial institutions across the country support cannabis businesses. And although this shows a rising support from Corporate America favoring the legitimacy of this estimated $50 Billion cannabis industry in just a few short years, as it stands only one-third of all licensed retailers, distributors and cultivators have reliable dealings with banks and credit unions. - An unheard of statistic with no parallels in our country's commercial marketplace.