The push on Capitol Hill to protect banks could go further than just financial relief
The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is designed to protect banks from federal backlash if they decide to work with marijuana businesses. Because federal legislation still makes cannabis an illegal substance, banks have been reluctant to open accounts for marijuana businesses, fearful that they could meet the wrath of federal law enforcement and lose their charters. If the SAFE Act were to be approved, though, the benefits could extend beyond just the ability to offer banking services to marijuana companies. It would allow a complete transformation on how the marijuana industry conducts itself and could also help produce lower prices for cannabis products.
The bill would open up competition, giving marijuana businesses the ability to apply for grants, loans and other financial support to grow their operations. As a result, as is the case in any free enterprise market, prices would most likely be cut in order to attract new customers.
According to the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association executive director, David O’Brien, “It’s not a very competitive marketplace. Every other type of business is able to bank within its region, and more often than not, within the same town. Cannabis should be treated like any other business.”
The CEO of Massachusetts-based Theory Wellness, Brandon Pollock, adds, “Getting access to more conventional financing would let us grow much quicker, and that would lower the prices we offer to consumers, too. Marijuana prices in Massachusetts are high, in part, because marijuana businesses have such high borrowing costs.”
The companies themselves aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the passage of the SAFE Act. Some cannabis employees – despite working for a legal company – have had their bank accounts closed or mortgage applications denied simply because the paycheck carried the name of a cannabis company. If someone is gainfully employed in a legally operating company, there is no excuse why they should not have access to all the privileges and benefits afforded to workers in all other industries.