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Dropped from US defense bill, cannabis banking still has long-term momentum

The news: A federal legislative provision that would allow US banks to serve cannabis businesses has been excluded from an updated version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), per Banking Dive.

More on this: The provision is called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act) and was included in an NDAA version that passed the House in September, Insider previously reported. It would let banks offer services in states where cannabis is legal even as the drug remains illegal at the federal level.

  • Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado), a chief sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, blasted the omission in a tweet, faulting lack of momentum in the US Senate as a cause. The congressman has filed a version of the SAFE Banking Act several times since 2013 and will continue to push for it, Banking Dive reported.
  • The SAFE act has some bipartisan support: Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), reacted to the news by tweeting about his concerns. stating that the Senate not acting “endangers public safety, stifles economic equity, and exacerbates the unsustainable patchwork of federal/state #cannabis laws.”

The big takeaway: While the SAFE Banking Act’s exclusion from the NDAA is a short-term setback for cannabis banking, it’s not a death knell. Backers’ fervent support will likely lead lawmakers to make another push in the not-too-distant future.

Some companies have filled the void by working with commercial cannabis growers, producers, manufacturers, and dispensaries that need access to capital and financial services:

  • A startup called SuperNet plans to offer a credit card for business and customers that will work for transactions at 100 California dispensaries.
  • POSaBIT and Shield Compliance have formed an alliance to provide financial compliance support to cannabis businesses, which includes anti-money laundering (AML).
  • KindTap is launching a credit-line product for consumers to use for cannabis purchases, which entails using a web-based app either online or in stores. The company is initially offering the product in Massachusetts, with plans to expand to other states.

Acting now means that these companies are positioning themselves to make money within an industry that racked up $17.5 billion in sales during 2020 and is projected to be worth $100 billion in the US by 2030. They could gain a first-mover advantage in cannabis banking from fostering customer relationships now.