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Cannabis in Time of COVID: Is Banking Relief in the Cards?

The latest COVID-19 relief package just voted out of the U.S. House of Representatives offers much needed help for state-sanctioned cannabis businesses. But its future is uncertain.

The SAFE Banking Act, which would allow banks and credit unions to offer services to marijuana dispensaries and other cannabis businesses without running afoul of federal law, was included in the $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which was approved overwhelmingly by the House on May 15.

“The purpose of this section is to increase public safety by ensuring access to financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers by reducing the amount of cash at such businesses,” the legislation reads in part.

The SAFE Banking Act had passed the House as a standalone bill in September 2019, but has languished in the Senate. Now the Senate will be forced to address the legislation as it takes up the latest House-passed COVID-19 relief package, dubbed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. However, Senate Republicans immediately pounced on the House’s action, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complaining the legislation “is not something designed to deal with reality, but designed to deal with aspirations.”

Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-OR), chief sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, said inclusion of the legislation in the House-approved relief package makes sense given health concerns over the handling of cash at marijuana dispensaries, many of which have been deemed “essential” businesses that can remain open under state-imposed COVID-19 closure orders. “The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated the risk posed to cannabis businesses and their employees, & they need relief just like any other legitimate business,” Perlmutter tweeted on May 12.

Because federal law still classifies cannabis products as controlled substances, most banks and credit unions refuse to open accounts for cannabis businesses. Those that do must follow strict reporting requirements established by the U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments. Most payment processing companies also have shunned cannabis businesses, forcing them to operate as cash-only businesses. This, in turn, has led to significant business and operational restrictions, as well as public safety hazards.

But not all payment processing companies are shunning cannabis businesses. At Paybotic we are committed to offering cannabis businesses the modern payment options their customers need and deserve. Our senior management team has a racked up more than 20 years of experience creating and refining electronic payment processing services that support the unique requirements of marijuana dispensaries and other businesses selling cannabis and related products.

If you operate a marijuana dispensary or other business involved in the cultivation, testing, distribution or sale of cannabis and related products contact Paybotic today at 844-420-4729 or https://paybotic.com/ to discuss how we can help your business better transact business with modern, electronic payment and banking services.

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