The new proposal would grant legal weed businesses access to federal loans and financial stimulus packages that could help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.
House Democrats are working to amend a new coronavirus stimulus bill to include protections for banks that wish to serve the cannabis industry.
The amendment, proposed by Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, would allow financial institutions to serve state-legal cannabis businesses without fear of federal prosecution. The proposal is based on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a cannabis banking bill that passed the House last year, but is still mired in a Senate committee.
Federal law prohibits any financial institution from handling funds connected with the sale of illegal drugs, including cannabis. These restrictions prevent legal weed businesses from opening bank accounts, accepting credit card payments, or getting loans. As a result, pot shops are forced to conduct all of their operations in cash, making them especially lucrative targets for robberies. The cash-only nature of weed businesses has even impacted the IRS, who built new storage rooms to store all the cash from legal weed taxes.
During a recent town hall call with local Colorado businesses, Rep. Perlmutter said that lawmakers have revised the SAFE Banking Act and are working to add this revised proposal to the newest economic stimulus package. The proposal reportedly has full support from the Democratic leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.