As the cannabis industry holds its breath while waiting to hear if marijuana banking reform will be part of a must-pass omnibus spending bill, James Hagedorn, a CEO of the lawn care giant Scotts Miracle-Gro SMG shared
his thoughts on the importance of this bill.
Scotts Miracle-Gro's 2014 development of subsidiary Hawthorne Gardening Company "to meet the demands of hydroponic (cannabis) was considered one of the first large investments by a major U.S. corporation in the marijuana space. Nevertheless, Hagedorn wants to see the SAFE Banking Act passed for more than merely personal reasons.
It’s Not About Legal Pot
In an exclusive interview with Fox Business, Hagedorn pointed out that the idea behind the banking legislation is not to make pot legal but to allow businesses that represent the legal cannabis market to use banks, instead of having cash everywhere.
“It’s very dangerous. It's inefficient. It's really dysfunctional for the banking industry, not to be able to take this money in, allow people to deposit in, make capital investments in legal businesses,” Hagedorn said.
The interview came on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the banking bill a “poison pill.”
It looks like the SAFE Act needs the support of both McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the reporter said and asked Hagedorn what he'd say to them if they were listening.
“Well, first of all, I think there are 60 votes to get this out of the Senate. It's been passed multiple times on a bipartisan basis in the House with a lot of Republican support, and there are some really good people out there. The co-sponsor on the Republican side in the Senate is a guy named Steve Daines. He's a really good Republican. I'm a Republican, out of Montana, and what he told me is - ‘Jim, I'm not in favor of marijuana," Hagedorn said. "What I'm not in favor of is dysfunction and banking. In my state, by voter initiative, they made it legal. And if it's going to be legal, my citizens should be able to bank.’”
Hagedorn continued.“This is not about pot. This is about dysfunction in banking, people today have to pay taxes on legal businesses with duffel bags of cash and counting machines like Scarface. It's not the way it's supposed to be in America. There are almost a half million people that are employed in this space. Americans that vote. They have problems getting mortgages this way. These are all people who are working in legal industries. This is dysfunctional and bad, and all the Senate has to do is allow legal businesses legal access to banking. “
Ifs the bill passes during the lame-duck session, Hagedorn says he doesn’t believe that big financial names like JP Morgan Chase JPM and Fifth Third FITB, are going to embrace the industry in the same instant because there’s “a lot of sensitivity about compliance.”
While many believe the SAFE Act is a small step in much-needed marijuana reform, Hagedorn agreed with Senator Danes that it is indeed a big step forward in rationalizing banking for legal businesses.
“Let's remember one thing when you have a lot of cash, it brings crime. There are people killed every day, where they have a lot of cash lying around. And, people have to take this money in cash.”
Scotts Miracle Grow shares were trading 0.39% higher at $48.50 per share during Monday’s pre-market session.
You can watch the entire interview HERE.
Photo: Benzing Edit; Sources: Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels and Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash
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