facebook linkedin twitter

Marijuana Businesses Ask Congress To Grant Them Banking Services

February 16, 2019 by Tom Ramstack
Rep. Maxine Waters speaks during a public meeting about the proposed Vermont Entertainment Village on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, at the Community Christian Reformed Church in South Los Angeles. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The lack of legal banking services for marijuana-related businesses is creating unnecessary economic barriers and encouraging crime, the owner of a Washington, D.C. marijuana business told Congress this week.

A House Financial Services subcommittee called the hearing to determine whether federal law that bans banking services for marijuana businesses should be changed.

“There is still no federally-approved system for businesses to perform typical duties like pay salaries, service customers using credit or debit cards, access working capital loans, pay bills via check, etcetera,” Corey Barnette said in his congressional testimony.

Barnette is the owner of District Growers LLC marijuana cultivation center and the Metropolitan Wellness Center Inc. cannabis dispensary, both in Washington, D.C.

“The current system serves to create a public safety disaster, disadvantages small and minority-owned businesses, hassles both employees and service providers to the industry, makes tax collection overly burdensome, and serves to largely stifle the growth of the industry,” he said.

Washington, D.C. was one of the first jurisdictions to allow both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Washington, D.C., along with Maryland, Colorado, Washington state and Oregon, also allows retail sales of small amounts of the drug.

Possession or sale of marijuana remains a felony offense under federal law.

Several witnesses from among state economic agency and trade association officials said the federal government was out of step with state laws. There are 47 states that legalized some degree of marijuana use, mostly for medicinal purposes.

California State Treasurer Fiona Ma told Congress the marijuana industry would be worth at least $5.1 billion in her state by 2020.

Congress is considering legislation called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019, also known as the SAFE Banking Act, that would turn cannabis into more of a regular business. The hearing this week was the first in Congress to consider banking services for marijuana businesses.

The bill would prohibit federal banking regulators from penalizing financial institutions that deal with legitimate marijuana-related businesses. The businesses could then accept credit cards from customers, obtain lines of credit for loans and pay employees through bank accounts.

Federal law now forces businesses that sell marijuana to deal with cash transactions only, sometimes making them targets of armed robbers.

Neill Franklin, a former Maryland law enforcement officer and now executive director of the nonprofit Law Enforcement Action Partnership, said that “opportunities for cash robberies will increase” as more marijuana businesses open but must deal only in cash.

One example witnesses mentioned during the hearing was the case of Travis Mason, a security guard who was shot and killed during robbery attempt at a marijuana dispensary in Colorado on June 18, 2016. He was planning to become a police officer when he was killed by the two robbers.

Witnesses also warned that the marijuana businesses could be used to launder money from illegal activities if all their transactions are in cash.

The American Bankers Association said in a statement to the subcommittee that federal law is standing in the way of economic development in states that legalized marijuana.

However, Jonathan Talcott, chairman of the anti-marijuana legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said ingesting the drug can lead to psychosis, addiction and serious health problems.

“This is a public health issue, not a banking issue,” he said.

Economy

US Jobless Claims Fall to New Pandemic Low of 290,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a new low point since... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a new low point since the pandemic erupted, evidence that layoffs are declining as companies hold onto workers. Unemployment claims dropped 6,000 to 290,000 last week, the third straight drop, the... Read More

October 20, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Congress Tries to Intervene In Supply Chain Disruptions

WASHINGTON -- While economists warned about disruptions to the U.S. supply chain, Chuck Fowke told a congressional panel Wednesday about... Read More

WASHINGTON -- While economists warned about disruptions to the U.S. supply chain, Chuck Fowke told a congressional panel Wednesday about countertops. “If you can’t get the cabinets, you can’t put the countertops on,” Fowke said as he testified on behalf of the National Association of Home... Read More

Commerce Head Out to Save US Jobs, 1 Computer Chip at a Time

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gina Raimondo only wears watches made by Bulova — a company that laid off her scientist father,... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gina Raimondo only wears watches made by Bulova — a company that laid off her scientist father, closed its Rhode Island factory and moved production to China in 1983. The watches give Raimondo, the U.S. commerce secretary, a sense of mission as President... Read More

October 14, 2021
by Dan McCue
White House Action on Supply Chain Bottleneck Seen As First Step To Ending Crisis

WASHINGTON -- They’ve almost become as ubiquitous as scenes of weathermen and women leaning into the fierce winds of a... Read More

WASHINGTON -- They’ve almost become as ubiquitous as scenes of weathermen and women leaning into the fierce winds of a tropical storm during hurricane season. We refer, of course, to the daily television news footage of a reporter bobbing up and down in a decidedly modest... Read More

US Wholesale Prices Rose Record 8.6% Over 12 Months

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation at the wholesale level rose 8.6% in September compared to a year ago, the largest advance... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation at the wholesale level rose 8.6% in September compared to a year ago, the largest advance since the 12-month change was first calculated in 2010. The Labor Department reported Thursday that the monthly increase in its producer price index, which measures inflationary... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Dan McCue
White House Steps Up Fight Against Supply Chain Woes

WASHINGTON --  In an ideal economy, the nation’s supply chains work something like this: raw materials, finished products and ready-to-assemble... Read More

WASHINGTON --  In an ideal economy, the nation’s supply chains work something like this: raw materials, finished products and ready-to-assemble merchandise like cars and trucks flow into the nation’s ports. The largest of these ports, those blessed to sit on deep-water harbors, typically have rail tracks... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top