Cannabis Banking Bill heads to the Senate

KNWA

The U.S. House of Representatives passes a bill with overwhelming bipartisan support allowing banks to provide services to legal marijuana businesses - we investigate how it'll affect our local dispensaries.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) – “We actually attempted to set up accounts with several banks and had several accounts closed,” Erik Danielson said.  

Erik Danielson is the owner of The Source in Bentonville. He says banks were hesitant in partnering with their business because of concerns. “Concerns because of the current federal prohibition on cannabis and the effect it could have on the core business,” Danielson said. “We had a number of accounts that we started with so we just moved funds until we find someone who was stable and would work with us.”  

Lawmakers are in the process of easing that stress.

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill called the Safe Banking Act that provides clarity to banks who want to offer services to legal marijuana businesses. It also prohibits the federal government from taking actions against a bank that chooses to do so. “It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support so I think that’s a sign of things to come and hopefully a push towards a lift of the federal prohibition,” Danielson said.  

Danielson said if the bill becomes a law it’ll help them in more ways than one, starting with allowing patients to use credit cards for purchases. “What we decided to do was just have an ATM at our location with a minimal transaction fee to try to keep the cost for the consumer down,” Danielson said.  

It’ll also allow Danielson to take out loans to use toward construction, something he would have to pay out of pocket for right now. “If you’re going to do an expansion or you need some operating capital the ability to borrow some money that would help a lot,” Danielson said.  

The Arkansas Bankers Association also weighed in on the act’s passage releasing this statement, “By helping to provide clarity for the financial sector in those states where cannabis is legal, this bill will help banks meet the needs of their communities while reducing cash-motivated crimes, increasing the efficiency of tax collections and improving the cannabis industry’s financial accountability,” ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols said. “It will also ensure that businesses with indirect ties to the cannabis industry—including vendors, utility companies and law firms—won’t be needlessly forced out of the financial system.”  

Three-hundred-twenty-one Representatives voted in favor of the bill – including U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, was one of the 103 who voted against. Nine members did not vote. 

The bill now heads to the Senate. 

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