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Equity cannabis licensees and applicants from New York and New Jersey are urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to get the United States get the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act passed in the Senate.

A total of 40 signatories joined that call to demand the Senate pass marijuana banking reform in order to lower barriers to entry to the industry for minority businesses and also to increase public safety. Entrepreneurs are also demanding a plenary vote to lift the federal ban that prohibits financial institutions from providing services to marijuana businesses.

Organized by the US Cannabis Council’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Working Group, the letter is the latest effort to pressure Sens. Schumer and Cory Booker (D-NJ) as well as other Senate members to pass the SAFE Act by the end of 2022.

“The Senate has the votes to pass the SAFE Banking Act, which will help clear hurdles for small business owners and address the harms caused by the federal prohibition of cannabis,” said Khadijah Tribble, CEO of the US Cannabis Council (USCC),

“New Jersey and New York are trying to ensure that the communities most harmed by the war on drugs are able to enter the regulated market and seize the opportunities that legalization offers. Lawmakers who care about righting past wrongs and protecting public safety must pass SAFE before the end of 2022,” Tribble added.

Several states, including New Jersey and New York, announced measures to ensure social equity within the cannabis space. In New York, more than 900 aspiring entrepreneurs applied for the 150 capital license slots available.

NO to High Fees

Without SAFE Banking, say many of the letter’s signatories say they fear that the thousands of people trying to enter or survive in the cannabis market will ultimately fail. The signatories represent a growing number of licensees and special stock applicants entering the legal marijuana market who say they’re concerned about access to the financial institutions they need to succeed.

Lerone Jones, owner of Mister Jones LLC, said “[Passing SAFE would allow my future dispensary to] legitimately do payroll, legitimately be able to engage with credit and debit merchants. And it will open the door for minority operators to have equal access to these institutions and services.”

A Matter Of Public Safety

“Another chief concern mentioned within the letter is public safety, particularly the well-being of operators, employees, and customers—with cannabis businesses forced to operate on a cash-only basis, becoming a target for violent robberies,” stated the press release.

“Banking [for cannabis businesses] should be available everywhere. If the closest bank is 13 miles away, and I have to carry cash from point A to point B, that could be dangerous,” said Justin Crosgile, owner of Treeotics LLC.

Please, No More Barriers To People With Past Convictions

The letter also requests that the Senate include restorative justice provisions to support communities most harmed by the War on Drugs and the continued federal prohibition of marijuana.

“There need to be expanded opportunities for people that helped build the market and put their lives on the line with it,” said Mike Golden, co-founder and CEO of The Higher Calling LLC. “SAFE Banking would help ensure social equity for the people who were harmed the most by the war on drugs.“

Finally, personal stories of several of the equity licensees who signed the letter to Sen. Schumer have been made available, with their permission HERE.

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Photo: Kindel Media and Paula Nardini by Pexels

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