Two cannabis CEOs told MarketWatch they’re encouraged by a Thursday letter supporting a federal measure to open up the financial services system to legal cannabis companies that has been stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Nineteen Democrats and six Republicans signed the letter requesting inclusion of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the America Competes Act, after the House voted in favor of the move in February.
The letter comes as the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives is in committee to resolve any differences between the two versions of the America Competes bill, which aims to boost American business to help compete with China.
“The difference today was seeing the combined positions of the Republican and Democratic senators — the fact that it’s a bipartisan group of Senators,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve Cannabis Corp.
“We find it encouraging.”
Ascend Wellness Holdings
CEO Abner Kurtin said passing the measure will help smaller cannabis companies faced with the burden of higher security costs to protect their cash.
“We’re very fortunate, we’ve never had a robbery but we know a lot of people who have,” Kurtin said. “We’re well capitalized so we’re in a position to have heavily fortified vaults and very good security and camera systems. All those types of things are expensive and hard to to do. It’s another barrier for mom and pop companies…who have a harder time getting bank accounts.”
While SAFE Banking has passed the U.S. House of Representatives six times, it has yet to come to a vote in the Senate. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has not thrown his full support behind the measure and instead plans to introduce a cannabis bill of his own in the coming months.
In their Thursday letter to House and Senate leadership, Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Jacky Rosen of Nevada said, “Allowing cannabis businesses operating legally and in compliance with state law to access financial services without federal reprisal would address public safety and compliance challenges, helping communities reduce cash-motivated crimes.”
Some cannabis companies have been able to open up bank accounts, but many use workarounds such as cashless ATMs and private payment networks.