As organized mobs attack all-cash retail marijuana outlets throughout the nation in a surge of brutal thefts, the leadership of the United States Senate simply failed to intervene.
If Congress is unwilling to assist, it is time for the marijuana sector to assist itself. Cryptocurrencies provide instant options to either an exclusive banking system or operating all-cash enterprises for legalized marijuana firms. We must implement them immediately.
The state-legal marijuana sector has developed enormously over the previous 25 years, but depositing the earnings of even a legalizedv firm is still unlawful under federal anti-money laundering (AML) rules. This basically prevents the sector (as well as any firms that serve it) from obtaining entry to banking and financial services.
The industry has battled to handle the growing danger to community security posed by requiring legal cannabis enterprises to go unbanked and self-custody enormous sums of cash. With every additional county that legalized cannabis, the issue grew in scope and location, but Congress largely ignored the issue.
While cannabis companies were always wary of the possibility of violent theft, the brutality used to conduct these thefts has become more planned and daring, usually involving highly equipped and coordinated gangs and often terminating in gunshot.
Other industry proponents (including cannabis businessmen, marijuana laborers, medicinal marijuana clients, drug policy modernizers, and many others) have traditionally concentrated their initiatives to solve this danger on banking law reform, lobbying legislators tirelessly to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
Most state-licensed cannabis companies have been prohibited from banking services and/or have been suddenly and unwillingly unbanked after receiving such services, as we have conveyed to our members of Congress year after year during our meetings. This puts these firms in the unfortunate predicament of functioning largely in cash, receiving only cash payments, and continually storing, guarding, and transferring significant quantities of cash every day – exposing their employees to assault and robbery or even worse.
However, after years of attempts to inform Congress, insufficient progress has been made in reducing this threat. It has been particularly disheartening to witness state-legalized enterprises (as well as their individual employees, customers, and owners) manage to remain with the continual danger of their health and monetary well-being from a preventable risk to community security year after year.
Particularly, Senate leadership declined to incorporate the text of the SAFE Banking Act in the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, notwithstanding pleas from House counterparts. The measure would have removed the temptation to target these vital enterprises with the stroke of a pen, eliminating the cash-rich honey pots from these retailers.
To describe this situation as terribly discouraging does not start to grasp the sense of desperation and despair at work, particularly amongst already battling cannabis dealers. If Congress fails to assist, it is time for us to assist them. As an industrial champion, I believe it is time to accept the hitherto inconceivable – being entirely and willingly unbanked – as an ideal to strive for instead of a situation to shun.
It is in the best interests of the industry (particularly tiny, minority- and women-owned cannabis firms) to turn beyond conventional banking organizations for secure deposits, bank loans, payment systems, as well as other essential financial services. Cryptocurrencies are the sole viable option to running all-cash enterprises, as well as a viable replacement for banks that are unable to handle legalized marijuana firms (and for those banks that may choose not to, even after SAFE Banking passes).
Cryptocurrencies have enormous potential, and not just for facilitating entry to financial services via decentralized financing (DeFi). They have the potential to level the playing game between major, well-capitalized multistate operators (MSOs) on one side and micro-businesses (including a woman- and minority-owned enterprises and social equity licensees) on another.
Huge MSOs can now manage banking access underneath the present, very stringent and blatantly biased FinCEN criteria, and will incur the excessive fees imposed by banks to cover the expense of increased monitoring required for AML compliance.
Small firms cannot obtain these financial services on equal terms, if at all. To state it another way, while federal legislation stays intact, the largest banks and their MSO clients have the financial resources to persuade federal authorities to ignore their presumably deliberate breaches of AML requirements – but everybody else is barred.