Yesterday, House leadership released a coronavirus relief bill that includes provisions to protect banks that service cannabis businesses from being penalized by federal regulators.
MPP has advocated for cannabis reform to be incorporated into COVID-19 legislation, including by sending a letter to House leadership and signing onto a letter with allies urging Congressional lawmakers to add the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act — or similar language — into the next pandemic relief package.
Due to current federal laws and financial regulations, most banks are unwilling to take the risk of prosecution or sanction to work with state-legal cannabis businesses. At a time when public health and safety are at the forefront of national consciousness, many businesses in the cannabis space are still forced to operate entirely in cash, thereby increasing the risk of virus transmission. Allowing state-legal cannabis businesses access to banking would improve both the safety and transparency of the industry, in addition to eliminating barriers to entry that prevent Americans from communities hit hardest by the war on cannabis from starting businesses.
The banking section of the new relief package, the HEROES Act, would “allow cannabis-related legitimate businesses, that in many states have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic as essential services, along with their service providers, to access banking services and products, as well as insurance.”
While we expect this legislation will pass the House, which could have a floor vote on the relief package as early as this Friday, the fate of the bill in the Senate remains much more uncertain. Please call your Senator now and urge them to support inclusion of cannabis banking provisions in the HEROES Act.
We hope you and yours are staying safe and in good health during this time.