The SAFE Banking Hearing: Congressional Committee Hears Testimony On Cannabis, Worker Safety, Legal Protection

By Natan Ponieman, Javier Hasse and Andrew Ward.

If passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, the SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act would prevent the federal government from applying sanctions to banks working with cannabis businesses. 

The U.S. Senate held a hearing Tuesday on the proposed legislation, which was introduced in March with bipartisan support.

The law would also grant protection to cannabis-ancillary ventures from being accused of money laundering and other related crimes.

Legal Tensions

Although legal in many states, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

This situation forces banks to avoid dealing with cannabis businesses, which in turn have to come up with inadequate solutions to their most basic financial operations, like depositing their employees’ salaries or cutting checks to pay taxes.

While some companies have found workarounds through credit unions, most cannabis businesses are still forced to deal entirely in cash. This is not only uncomfortable and inefficient, but it also represents a significant security risk and an operational nightmare.

Seeking to address some of these headaches, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs heard the testimony of lawmakers, cannabis advocates and business executives Tuesday. They spoke about what cannabis businesses experience when being denied access to basic banking services.

Although it is not a perfect solution, the passage of the SAFE Banking Act would legitimize the cannabis industry’s position on a federal level and give immediate relief for one of the industry’s biggest headaches.

Banking Woes

Benzinga reached out to industry participants for their opinion on the SAFE Banking Act, as it has the potential to profoundly affect cannabis businesses in the short-term.

Benzinga's Cannabis Capital Conference heads to Detroit on Aug. 15 — click here to learn more!

John Vardaman, the chief compliance officer for Simplifya and a former senior Justice Department official focused on banking, said there is a growing urgency for Congress to address the problem of banking laws for the marijuana industry. 

“As the industry continues to grow, and with additional state legalization efforts on the horizon, it must have access to the financial system in the same manner as every other business in this country," Vardaman said.

"The SAFE Banking Act would provide banks and credit unions with badly needed legal protection to expand access to marijuana businesses, and in the process bring greater financial transparency and accountability to the industry."

Meet Senator Crapo

Bruce Barcott, deputy editor at Leafly and a longtime cannabis reporter, told Benzinga he believes the hearing served as an introduction to Sen. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican. 

“Crapo is head of the Banking Committee, and nothing will get out of that committee without his OK. He’s an old-school senator who has a distaste for the issue of marijuana and comes from one of the very few states that still allows no form of legal cannabis whatsoever," Barcott said. 

High Times CEO Kraig Fox also emphasized Crapo's importance — and applauded his decision to permit a hearing on the SAFE Banking Act. 

"We are hopeful that this will progress and that Congress and the president can unite to support this measure."

Crapo was the only Republican member of the Banking Committee to attend the hearing.

Investments And Employee Safety

Matt Hawkins, the managing partner of Cresco Capital Partners, said a change in federal banking laws for cannabis businesses would result in a massive increase in investment in the sector. 

“We should see a domino effect of multiple U.S.-based funding sources pouring money into the cannabis market. We could also potentially see a heavy influx of cannabis-related IPO registrations to the NYSE and NASDAQ," Hawkins said.

"This bill would also open the floodgates for the billions of dollars in revenue generated from the industry to be integrated into the federal banking system.”

Workers in the industry would be able to more easily acquire loans for education, housing and more, he said. 

Brad Nattrass, the CEO of urban-gro, also emphasized the benefits the law would bring to the more than 211,000 workers in the cannabis industry. 

“A key factor when considering cannabis banking reform is how expanded regulations may positively impact worker safety. Operating in a cash environment poses risks for those involved and can invite criminal activity.”

DionyMed Brands CEO Edward Fields also said the lack of banking for cannabis businesses creates a safety issue. 

"It's an absolute moral and ethical failure for Congress to continue to expose Americans operating in state-legal industries to the potential for criminal violence," he said.

"Delivery trucks and vans are being targeted by criminal elements who know that, on account of Congress’s inaction, large amounts of cash are being transported across the state, and employees are being put in potentially life-threatening situations every time they hit the road. This sort of thing doesn’t happen in the liquor or tobacco industries, and it shouldn’t happen to cannabis.”

Eyes On The Future

Scott Hammon, COO of MGO|ELLO, said the SAFE Banking Act act could represent a step toward full federal legalization.

“While it is a first step, granting access to the banking system will eventually lead to broader legislative reform. Such access to banking services will also help to eliminate the stigma of working with licensed cannabis businesses and assist cannabis operators in maintaining compliance with rules and regulations.”

Surterra CEO and Chairman William “Beau” Wrigley Jr. also spoke positively about the legislation. 

“The strong, bipartisan support for allowing cannabis businesses access to banking services demonstrates the momentum behind sensible cannabis reform that prioritizes patient well-being and public safety.”

Image from Unsplash.

Never miss a news story in the cannabis world. Click here to check out Benzinga Cannabis for more.

Posted In: Brad NattrassBruce BarcottCresco Capital PartnersDionyMed BrandsEdward FieldsHigh TimesJohn Vardaman Jr.Kraig FoxLeaflymarijuanaMatt HawkinsMGO|ELLOMike CrapopotScott HammonSimplifyaSurterraurban-groweedWilliam WrigleyCannabisNewsPoliticsTop StoriesMarketsGeneral

BENZINGA CANNABIS CONFERENCE

Meet the biggest cannabis industry players and make deals that will push the industry forward.

Featuring live company presentations, insider panels, and unmatched access to networking, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is where cannabis executives and entrepreneurs meet.

Join us April 11-12, 2023 at Fontainebleau Miami Beach in sunny Florida.

11 Best Black Friday Deals on Amazon

11 Best Black Friday Deals on Amazon

The best Black Friday deals from Amazon are still coming hard and fast because the holiday is not yet upon us and the mega-retailer prefers to keep consumers on the hook for as long as possible—spending as much money as possible. 

To that end, here are some of the best Black Friday deals from Amazon that you might want to consider today.

Calphalon 10-Piece Pots and Pans Set

Regular Price: $172

Sale Price: $138.88

Calphalon’s 10-Piece Pots and Pans Set is designed with stainless steel, stay-cool handles along with pour spouts. The nonstick surface is PFOA-free and built with hard-anodized aluminum that is both durable and conducts heat extremely well. The set includes 2 fry pans, a sauce pan with cover, saute pan with cover and large stock pot with cover.

Apple AirPods 2nd Generation

Regular Price: $144

Sale Price: $85.49

The 2nd Generation AirPods from Apple connect to all Apple devices and give you an enhanced listening experience. Plus, they come with a case that keeps them safe and allows you to charge them in a secure environment. With over 24 hours of battery life, access to Siri and easy setup, you can start listening to your favorite tunes or podcasts today.

Adidas Ultraboost 21 Running Shoes

Regular Price: $129.98

Sale Price: $89.98

The Adidas Women’s Ultraboost 21 running shoe is perfect for anyone who likes a short run, maybe a 5K, half marathon or more. Coming in several colors and styles, you can slip these shoes on, enjoy the cushioned outsole, sink into the supple insole and secure laces.

Ninja AF101 Air Fryer

Regular Price: $129.99

Sale Price: $97.83

The Ninja AF101 Air Fryer allows you to crisp, roast, reheat and even dehydrate food products faster and cheaper than ever before. It has a 4-quart capacity and offers a wide temperature range along with several time settings so that you can customize each dish to your needs. Plus, all the parts are dishwasher safe.

Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

Regular Price: $199.95

Sale Price: $99

Beats by Dr. Dre are among the best headphones on the market, and the Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones include the Apple W1 chip, Class 1 Bluetooth and 40 hours of battery time. These headphones even have a built-in microphone and offer an adjustable fit so that you can be comfortable whether you’re listening to an Android or iOS device.

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

Regular Price: $198.98

Sale Price: $175.98

The Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner allows you to keep your home spotless and clean up after your pets. The cleaner comes with the Hoover Paws and Claws Deep shampoo and a storage mat to keep the floor dry once it’s put away.

LG CordZero Auto Empty Cordless Stick Vacuum

Regular Price: $999.00

Sale Price: $851.71

The LG CordZero Auto Empty Cordless Stick Vacuum and Wet Mop All in One Tower is designed to work in homes with several pets or children and clean up all the messes that life brings. The battery lasts up to 2 hours, and there’s an extra removable battery that gives you even more cleaning time and power.

Breville Fresh and Furious Blender

Regular Price: $278.60

Sale Price: $199.95

Breville, a top name in blenders and juicers, offers the Fresh and Furious Blender, featuring 50-ounce capacity, Vac Q technology, pre-programmed cycles, LCD display and lid with pull ring. With the Fresh and Furious Blender, you can make everything from a smoothie to a soup and everything in between.

Hot Tools Professional 2000 Turbo Ionic Hair Dryer

Regular Price: $89.99

Sale Price: $55.63

The Hot Tools Professional 2000 Turbo Ionic Hair Dryer is designed for professional use, but it works perfectly in the home. With 1875 watts of power, 6 heat and speed settings and a lightweight design, you can easily style your hair and utilize the diffuser, cut back on the frizz and stretch the 8 ft cord for maximum functionality.

Columbia Heavenly Long Hooded Jacket

Regular Price: $160

Sale Price: $97.38

The Heavenly Long Hooded Jacket from Columbia is designed to be light for everyday use, but it’s heavy enough to protect you from the cold. The plush fleece lining, security pocket, water resistant fabric, 2-way zipper, and zippered hand pockets make the jacket both protective and functional.

ConAir InfinitiPro Hair Dryer

Regular Price: $49.99

Sale Price: $29.99

ConAir is one of the biggest names in hair and beauty, and the InfinitPro is an 1875 watt hair dryer designed for professionals with ceramic technology. The dryer comes with a diffuser and concentrator, and it allows you to blow out your hair just the way they would at the salon.

Deals the Experts Are Hoping For

Experts believe that Amazon’s Black Friday sale could linger for quite some time. It all started with the Prime Early Access sale on October 11 and 12. Previously, Amazon has offered the “Epic Deals” sale that ran through late October. 

This is to say that any sale could come up at any time. 

Even so, those monitoring Amazon are looking forward to a few potential deals, including:

  • Apple Watch
  • AirPods (any generation)
  • MacBook Pro
  • Large, underpriced TVs
  • Amazon Echo
  • More small home appliances (Dyson or Shark vacuums, Instant Pots, etc.) 

While these predictions are based on last year’s Amazon Black Friday Sale, it’s important to remember that most Black Friday sales are fairly consistent and push the products that are most likely to sell.

 

Featured image sourced from Shutterstock

Posted In: Partner ContentGeneral