For various reasons, dispensary owners and managers don't like to talk about the specifics of the problems they face in the banking area. But a bill working its way through Congress right now, the SAFE Banking Act -- co-sponsored by Oklahoma Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn -- might change everything for local medical cannabis businesses and local banks.
"We're seeing a lot of bankers, many of whom frankly don't approve, necessarily, of the cannabis industry, but it's now a legal industry and they're getting contacted as a federally chartered bank and this is still a Schedule I drug," Republican Congressman Tom Cole, who supports the bill, said. "[They're wondering] 'Does this affect our charter?' And they're having to tell people they can't help them. They shouldn't be put in that position. They've got to have legal clarity."
Currently, banking is prohibited for businesses across the country who sell, produce, package or even transport recreational or medical cannabis. It's not that their money is no good; the banks legally can't take it.
Since cannabis is still an illegal, Schedule I drug under federal law, the federally-regulated banks can't work with those businesses. Alisha Wade, executive vice president and chief operating officer with Valliance Bank, says this puts community banks in a difficult situation.
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