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Majority of Americans Want Congress to Act on Cannabis Banking

A national survey conducted March 8 by Morning Consult on behalf of American Bankers Association found that most Americans want Congress’s support for cannabis banking reform. 

Lack of banking access forces cannabis businesses to deal in cash—which has proven to be exceedingly reckless. In certain states, there is a risky pattern of robberies involving cannabis and money. 

Survey data indicates that Americans are happy with their bank accounts. However, the survey asked participants their opinions on whether or not it should be possible for cannabis-related businesses to access banks. 

Survey respondents were asked their opinions on cannabis banking. A strong majority of American adults—65 percent—support allowing cannabis businesses to access banking services such as checking accounts and business loans in states where cannabis is legal, while only 15 percent oppose. Furthermore, 68 percent of Americans said that Congress should pass legislation so that cannabis businesses can “access banking services and products in states” where it is legal.

Seven out of 10 Americans support Congress’s passage of legislation that permits cannabis companies to have access to checking accounts and loans. Many of the states have businesses that still trade in cash. 

“Consumers clearly agree that now is the time to resolve the ongoing conflict between state and federal law so banks can serve legal cannabis and cannabis-related businesses,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “Doing so will help banks meet the needs of their communities while enhancing public safety, increasing the efficiency of tax collections and improving the financial transparency of the cannabis industry.”

Leaders from NORML applauded the new batch of data, particularly for the survey’s inclusion of people’s views on cannabis businesses.

“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,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, commenting on the polling data. “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.”

Recent data from the U.S. Treasury Department shows that only around 11 percent of U.S. bank branches and four percent of U.S. credit-unions offer banking services for cannabis-related companies.

In early February, the House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act as part of a separate bill—marking the sixth time the lower chamber of Congress has passed the legislation to grant cannabis businesses access to banking and other financial services.

As an amendment to the legislation drafted in support of U.S. manufacturers and to improve competition with China, the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence In Technology and Economic Stability Act of 2022 (America COMPETES Bill of 2022) was adopted by members of Congress.

NORML cited Whitney Economics’ earlier year survey data. According to the survey, more than 70% of cannabis companies stated that they face difficulties accessing capital or banking services. Only 39 percent pointed to the impact of the black marketplace as the biggest obstacle facing cannabis businesses, while 42 percent reported that state regulations were the largest burden.