Congress Weights New Banking Laws That Could Light Up the Pot Business
Fortune - Sat 20 Apr 18:40 GMT

The fledgling cannabis industry is currently deprived of most basic financial services, but two proposed bills could change the game.

Congress Weights New Banking Laws That Could Light Up the Pot Business

  In lieu of major national banks and financial institutions, some cannabis businesses have resorted to state-chartered credit unions willing to serve them in states where various uses of marijuana are now legal.

  That bill, which has also gained significant bipartisan support, would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970—which designated marijuana as a Schedule I substance—to restrict federal enforcement of the CSA against individuals and companies in states where cannabis is legal.

  ABA president and CEO Rob Nichols greeted the news of the SAFE Banking Act’s passage through the House Financial Services Committee last month as “an important step forward in providing regulatory and legal clarity for financial institutions caught in the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws.”

  FINCANN CEO Nathaniel Gurien, whose firm acts as an intermediary in arranging financial services for cannabis companies, says he thinks the SAFE Banking Act “probably has a less than even chance of passing this year—which means it has no chance next year as things heat up politically” in advance of the 2020 elections.

  Josh Schneiderman, an attorney at Los Angeles-based law firm Snell & Wilmer who advises clients in the cannabis industry, also notes that there are still numerous gray areas that the current iteration of the SAFE Banking bill does not address—such as whether banks would be in a position to foreclose on certain types of collateral if they don’t have a license to operate a marijuana-related business such as a dispensary.