A majority of adults in the United States support cannabis banking services that allow marijuana companies access to banking in states that have legalized cannabis, according to a new poll from the American Bankers Association (ABA).
The new data shows that 66 percent of American adults favor the U.S. Congress passing legislation that provides cannabis banking services, including the ability to have business checking accounts and apply for business loans in areas where cannabis is legal. Those findings mirror recent polls finding an increasing number of Americans also favor legalization.
“Americans firmly believe that now is the time to resolve the ongoing conflict between state and federal law to allow banks to serve legal cannabis and cannabis-related businesses,” said Rob Nichols, President and CEO of ABA, in a press release. “We urge Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act this year to enhance public safety in the 38 states where cannabis is legal in some form.”
Small Percentage Oppose Cannabis Banking Services
The survey included two cannabis-related questions. One question asked respondents if they think cannabis businesses should have access to banking services. The next question asked whether or not Congress should take action to make the change.
Only 16 percent of respondents voted against Congress stepping in with a law that provides cannabis banking services. Two in three respondents supported making the legislation change.
The ABA poll included a sample of 2,211 adult respondents in the U.S.
The bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act has passed in various forms in the House of Representatives seven times, but it has yet to pass in the Senate during all of these attempts.
However, Senate leadership is in process of finalizing a number of marijuana reform items like marijuana research, access to medical marijuana for veterans and more. Cannabis banking protection is expected to be part of the package.
The Need For Cannabis Banking Services
Politicians in support of cannabis banking protection often cite safety as one of the primary reasons why this change is necessary. Without banking options in place, most cannabis dispensaries have to deal in cash-only transactions. This makes them more vulnerable to robberies and other threats.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of robberies – dozens of instances of violence,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said in an interview with Marijuana Moment. “And it falls heavily on people who don’t have the massive resources to be able to ride this out and to pay the premium that is attached to being forced to be all cash.”
Since marijuana is still a Schedule I illegal drug on a federal level, federally insured banking institutions refuse to provide them with services to comply with the law. If banks were to provide these services under the current legislation, federal regulators could possibly enact penalties against them.
Political leaders have been pushing for this change for some time. Colorado’s governor and other top state officials sent Congress a letter emphasizing their desire to have the SAFE Act passed.
Legal cannabis dispensaries in Colorado have faced a number of robberies, underscoring their need for safe banking options. Colorado Treasurer Dave Young, one of the officials to sign the letter to Congress, compared the influx of armed robbery to a “21st century Wild West.”