A new poll has revealed that two-thirds of voters support cannabis banking reform as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act continues to stall in Congress.
The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) announced Sept. 6 that the organization’s recent poll, conducted by Morning Consult, showed that 65% of voters support allowing cannabis-related businesses to access banking services in state-legal markets.
“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 Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a public statement. “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order to truly bring the marijuana industry out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to repeal these outdated and discriminatory practices.”
The ICBA’s survey revealed that 71% of voters believe that allowing cannabis-related businesses access to the banking system would help protect public safety by reducing the risk of robbery, according to the press release, while 55% said that cannabis banking reform would advance social equity by supporting cannabis-related businesses owned and led by people of color, women and the LGBTQ community.
The poll also found that more than 80% of voters believe that businesses that operate exclusively in cash have a higher risk of robbery or theft, 62% believe that restricting cannabis-related businesses from accessing banking services poses a threat to public safety, and 63% believe that allowing cannabis-related businesses to access the banking system will help improve public safety.
“U.S. voters have made clear that current law inhibiting access to the banking system for cannabis-related businesses has a negative impact on local communities,” ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said in a public statement. “With a supermajority of U.S. voters voicing support for allowing cannabis-related businesses access to the banking system, the Senate should act now on bipartisan cannabis banking legislation that the House has passed seven times.”
The SAFE Banking Act, which would prohibit federal regulators from taking punitive measures against financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses, has passed the U.S. House seven times, most recently as an amendment to a federal defense spending package, but has not been taken up by the Senate.
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The ICBA was one of the first national trade groups to support the SAFE Banking Act and to testify before Congress on its behalf, according to the press release. In addition, the organization’s poll demonstrated that 58% of respondents agree that a Senate vote on establishing a cannabis banking safe harbor is important.
“It is imperative for the interests of public safety, transparency and the economic viability of small cannabis businesses that this legislation is approved as soon as possible,” NORML Political Director Morgan Fox said in a public statement. “The fact that the people’s chamber has approved this measure in various forms multiple times is a clear indicator of where voters stand on this issue. Continued inaction by the Senate on this popular bipartisan reform puts workers and customers at risk of violence, makes it harder for regulators to accurately track cannabis revenue, and perpetuates the high costs and lack of access to capital that are increasingly widening the gap between large and small businesses in the cannabis space when it comes to their chances to succeed. The Senate should take this rational—if incremental—step toward sensible federal cannabis policy through whatever vehicle is available in the current session.”