Hurry Up and Wait, Chuck Schumer
A recent headline in MJBiz Daily bears a second look. Not that there's a problem with the article - oh no - there's a problem with Chuck Schumer's approach to cannabis and it's having a huge financial impact on our industry.
As reported by John Schroyer in his article, US Marijuana Legalization Advocates In ‘Waiting Game’ On Schumer Bill Chuck Schumer has announced that he's likely NOT going to bring the SAFE Banking Act to the floor, even though it was passed by the House on the eve of 4/20, by a vote of 321-101.
Instead, Schumer wants to go full James Bond in the High Stakes Game of Cannabis Legalization. He doesn’t just want to play it SAFE, he wants to win the whole pot (pun intended).
Which is cool when there’s a shaken not stirred martini and a Bond Babe on the line, but while Uncle Chuck counts his cards... er, votes ... real money is going up in smoke.
We all know that plant-touching businesses are forced to deal in cash, because - sing along: banks are federally insured and can’t provide services to Schedule 1 drugs. The now that the legal industry is about $20 Billion, this means there are $20 Billion in 5’s and 10’s and 20’s forced to be SAFE our communities. All cannabis bills paid in cash. $1 Million tax bills paid in cash. That means armed guards on one side and bad guys on the other.
Tick-tock on public safety, Senator.
Does anyone remember the bank robber Willie Sutton? When someone asked why he robbed banks, he replied “Because that’s where the money is”
Well these days, the money is in the Dispensaries and it’s not so SAFE. As Forbes reports in "The Cost Of Cash For Unbanked Cannabis Businesses" bad guys used the Black Lives Matter Demonstrations to cover robberies of Millions. And even during normal times, 90% of thefts are inside jobs. The temptation is overwhelming.
The cost of managing all this cash is astronomical. Armed guards ain’t minimum wage earners. Cash counting machines / big vaults / 30 security camera per store ain’t cheap. A single vault can cost $60 Grand or more, the cameras are more like 75.
Then there’s hassles: Willamette Week reported on a Portland Oregon utility that would not allow a dispensary owner to use cash to pay her electric bill because of its policy against Schedule 1 drugs. All of this could be fixed with the SAFE Act. Delaying it for a high-stakes gamble is not only risky, it’s costing good cannabis professionals buckets of duckets every month.
According to the MJBiz article, "Schumer has been working with Democratic cohorts Cory Booker and Ron Wyden of New Jersey and Oregon, respectively... it could easily be months – or even well into 2022 – before substantial progress is made in the Senate on Schumer’s bill.
One commentator said "... it’s likely the bill that emerges will be a of combination of legislation run in the past by all three senators in the 2019-20 Congressional session:
Schumer’s Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would have removed MJ from the list of controlled substances, established a trust fund for minority-owned cannabis businesses and authorized federal restrictions on MJ product advertising.
Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, which also would have descheduled MJ, eliminated all criminal penalties for trafficking in the drug, reduced federal funds for states that haven’t legalized and established a federal fund to support communities affected by the war on drugs.
Wyden’s Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, a third bill that would have descheduled MJ. It would have gone much further in regulating the marijuana industry by establishing national MJ taxes and a regulatory framework for businesses.
Yes, Chuck Schumer, we need SAFE Banking. We need SAFE Research. And SAFE interstate Commerce. We need SAFE-TY and EQUI-TY for People of Color. But don’t keep us waiting.
You’ve already been dealt a great hand from the Full House, now we need the Senate to come up Aces.
IMAGE SOURCE: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, Attribution: United States Senate, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons