Washington D.C.: More than 700 banks and credit unions have filed documents with the US government acknowledging their relationships with licensed cannabis companies, according to quarterly data provided by the US Treasury Department.
The total is up from the first quarter of 2021, but still lower than the totals reported in the first quarter of 2020. In total, the agency identified 553 banks (about 11% of all U.S. banks) and 202 credit unions ( about 4% of all U.S. credit unions) that “actively provide banking services to marijuana-related businesses.”
Federal law discourages banks and other financial institutions from having relationships with marijuana companies because the plant remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. On six occasions, members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed a law, The SAFE Banking Act, to explicitly allow banks and other institutions to engage in relationships with marijuana companies without violating federal law. House members did so last month, attaching the measure as an amendment to the America COMPETES Act of 2022. The law is currently awaiting action from the US Senate.
According to survey data compiled earlier this year by Whitney Economics, more than 70% of participating cannabis businesses said “lack of access to banks or investment capital” is their biggest challenge. By comparison, only 42% of respondents cited “state regulations” as the biggest burden facing the industry, and only 39% cited “illicit market influence.”
Additional information on the SAFE Banking Act is available from NORML.