Banking in the Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry has grown exponentially as more states have adopted marijuana-friendly laws. Yet, a significant problem surrounding the marijuana industry is the unwillingness by financial institutions to integrate with cannabis-based businesses. Join us as we explain why the cannabis industry has been wholly barred from interacting with banks and digital financial platforms - and how this issue affects your marijuana business.
Banks and the Federal Government
If you’re the owner or manager of a cannabis-based business, you’re highly aware of the massive amounts of physical money that flows into your dispensary. Clearly, you’d rather deposit these significant sums into a bank account that’s insured. As many of us have tried in the past, you’d be quickly turned away due to a banks’ designation as a federal entity.
Due to the simple fact that banks are FDIC insured (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), they must not fall out of line with regulators at the federal level. The federal government classifies cannabis-based products as a Schedule I drug, which means they are on par with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other dangerous substances.
It’s for this reason that banks are unwilling to budge from their position, which leaves marijuana-based businesses in a precarious position.
A Cash-Based Business
The cannabis industry was worth nearly $8 billion in 2017, which shows the dire need for traditional banking access. The industry currently does over $8 billion in sales across the United States, and yet, the majority of this money is transferred and held physically.
Although cannabis is a growing force compared to that of the alcohol and tobacco industries, it’s excluded from a basic right of depositing cash, receiving loans, and offering payroll services. This exclusionary behavior directly affects your daily business operations.
Digital Financial Platforms
To make matters worse, digital financial platforms, such as PayPal, Square, and other services have blocked cannabis-based businesses from opening accounts that would allow them to accept credit cards and deposit revenue.
You must be scratching your head at this point, wondering how you’ll be able to operate your business in a traditional sense. You know how dangerous it is to carry revenue in the form of physical cash, so, understandably, that the entire marijuana industry is focused entirely on a future decision that can change the landscape of cannabis-based businesses forever.
The SAFE Banking Act
The cannabis industry is focused currently on the decision related to the SAFE Banking Act that was put forth by Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter. This act would effectively end financial institutions from excluding your marijuana business. A decision is scheduled to be announced by the end of June, so it’s vital that you’re aware of the outcome.
What Can You Do in the Mean Time?
Whether the SAFE Banking Act passes or not, you should prepare your business for any eventuality. If it passes, you should immediately file for a merchant account with the bank of your choice. By doing so, you’ll begin the process of being recognized by a financial institution that will allow you benefits that will give you access to crucial services.
If the bill is denied, then you’ll need to revert to other methods of accepting payments. Alternative methods are in the form of crypto-currencies or point-of-sale devices that are operated through a third party.
If the SAFE Banking Act fails to pass the House and Senate, cannabis sellers may need to resort to crypto-currency based processors.
These alternative forms of payment aren’t as streamlined as having access to a bank account, but they may prove useful when left without a choice.