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A supermajority of Americans support ending federal restrictions that discourage banks and other financial institutions from servicing licensed cannabis businesses, according to national survey data released today by the American Bankers Association.

The polling, provided by Morning Consult, finds that 65 percent of respondents “support allowing cannabis businesses to access banking services (e.g., checking accounts, business loans) in states where cannabis is legal.” Moreover, 68 percent of Americans say that Congress should pass legislation so that marijuana businesses can “access banking services and products in states” where it is legal.

Commenting on the polling data, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Americans understand that no industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions and it is self-evident that this industry, and those consumers that are served by it, remain severely hampered without this access. It is also clear that the status quo is actively hurting small businesses and creating unnecessary barriers to entry for entrepreneurs from those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by decades of cannabis prohibition. In order to truly bring the marijuana industry out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to repeal these outdated and discriminatory practices.”

Federal law discourages banks and other financial institutions from maintaining relationships with marijuana businesses because the plant remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. According to data provided last month by the US Treasury Department, only about 11 percent of all US banks and about 4 percent of all US credit unions are “actively providing banking services to marijuana-related businesses.”

Legislation remains pending in Congress, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, to amend federal law so that banks and other financial institutions can partner with state-licensed marijuana businesses without fear of federal repercussions. Last month, members of the US House of Representatives added this language as an amendment to legislation, The America COMPETES Act of 2022, and advanced it to the US Senate. The vote marked the sixth time that members of the House have advanced the SAFE Banking Act to the Senate either as an amendment or as a stand-alone piece of legislation.

Survey data compiled earlier this year by Whitney Economics reported that over 70 percent of participating cannabis businesses say that the “lack of access to banking or investment capital” is their top challenge. By comparison, only 42 percent of respondents cited “state regulations” as the most significant burden facing the industry, and only 39 percent cited the “influence of the illicit market.”

Additional information on The SAFE Banking Act is available here.

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