NEW YORK - Senator Chuck Schumer is offering a glimmer of hope for cannabis businesses currently locked out of using federal banks, like most other businesses.
In a recent social media post, Schumer announced his intention to introduce a bill known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act. Senator Schumer contends that this legislation will not only bolster communities but also enhance safety for small businesses by granting legal cannabis enterprises access to conventional financial institutions.
For Rich Rainone, a co-owner of Dazed Cannabis, a dispensary that first opened its doors as a pop-up shop in Union Square last April, the news is an important step foward.
"I think it's a step in the right direction as far as cannabis reform is concerned," Rainone said.
"This bill provides a safe harbor to financial institutions and insurance companies to provide their services to state-licensed cannabis companies, notwithstanding the federal illegality of it," said Jeffrey Schultz, a cannabis corporate regulatory lawyer and industry advocate.
Traditional leaders have remained reticent to embrace the booming cannabis industry, especially because selling marijuana still violates federal law.
"Part of why banks have been hesitant to get involved in this industry is that it's a gray area, right? It's not totally black and white," Schultz said. "This bill makes it safe and abundantly clear that providing their services is absolutely permitted. It provides an explicit safe harbor to offer depository services, lending activity, mortgages."