American consumers want lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure cannabis businesses have access to banking services, according to the results of a poll released on Tuesday. The survey from the American Banking Association found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of consumers support allowing cannabis businesses access to traditional banking services such as checking accounts and business loans in states with legal cannabis, while only 15 percent opposed the idea.
Under current regulations, banks are subject to penalties under federal money laundering and other laws for servicing such companies, leaving the cannabis industry to operate in a risky environment heavy in cash, even in states that have legalized marijuana. ABA president and CEO Ron Nichols said the poll shows the American public supports finding a solution to the problem.
“Consumers clearly agree that now is the time to resolve the ongoing conflict between state and federal law so banks can serve legal cannabis and cannabis-related businesses,” Nichols
Support for action from lawmakers on the issue was slightly stronger among the poll’s respondents. When asked if Congress should pass legislation that allows cannabis firms access to banking services in states where marijuana is legal, 68 percent said they supported the idea, 15 percent were opposed and 16 percent were unsure.
SAFE Banking Act Passed by House Six Times
Since its original introduction, the House of Representatives has passed the provisions of the SAFE Banking Act six times, either as a stand-alone bill or as an amendment to other legislation. But so far, the Senate has failed to approve the legislation and send it to the White for the president’s signature. Although Perlmutter announced in January that he would not seek re-election after serving in the House since 2006, he still has hopes to get the cannabis banking bill passed during his last year in Congress.
“I will continue to be a real pest,” Perlmutter
Perlmutter noted that Democratic leaders in the Senate would like to add additional provisions for the expungement of cannabis-related convictions and other issues related to cannabis legalization. But “as we expand this thing, we start losing votes, particularly Republican votes,” he said.
After the House approved provisions of the SAFE Banking Act for the sixth time in February as part of a bill designed to maintain American competitiveness with China, Morgan Fox, the political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, called on the Senate to finally approve the legislation.
“It is imperative for the interests of public safety, transparency, and the economic viability of small cannabis businesses that this legislation is approved as soon as possible. The fact that the people’s chamber has approved this measure in various forms multiple times is a clear indicator of where voters stand on this issue,”