Senate Bill Could End Cash-Only Days for Marijuana Dispensaries

Marijuana use doesn’t carry the same stigma that it once did, but legal restrictions still make it a dangerous cash business. Here’s the story of one Senator’s long fight to change all that.

The Weed Revolution

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PreciousJ

Back in 2015, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley introduced a bill that would have revolutionized the fledgling cannabis industry.

He Knew the Score

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

In office since 2009, Merkley had a front-row seat to watch marijuana’s transformation in one of the country’s most liberal states.

He knew what was at stake.

Oregon Had the Munchies

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff

After all, Oregon decriminalized Mary Jane in 1973, approved it for medicinal use in 1998, and then opened it up for recreational use in 2014.

Times Were Changing

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Evgeny Atamanenk

It was clear to Merkley that attitudes around marijuana were changing, and not just in his state.

By the beginning of 2015, more than a dozen other states were allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis to their patients.

Not in the Clear

Image Credit: Shutterstock / insta_photos

But even with Americans becoming less uptight about everybody’s favorite chill pill, Merkley knew that a few big problems still remained.

Banks Were Restricted

Image Credit: Shutterstock / tommaso79

One of the biggest, and most dangerous, was a set of laws around how financial institutions were supposed to act in regard to marijuana “dealers.”

No Loans for You!

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi

In particular, federal statutes barred banks from loaning money to businesses who were involved in the sale of cannabis.

Guilt by Association

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

And the situation was even more disruptive than that, says Merkley.

Banks were also held to a standard of not serving businesses who themselves served cannabis businesses.

All or Nothing

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kues

Merkley cites the example of a fertilizer who sells to 200 companies.

If one of those companies happened to grow marijuana, then the fertilizer firm landed on banks’ restricted lists.

Cash and Carry

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vincent Nazareth

That led to a situation where perfectly legitimate businesses in the eyes of the law were forced to carry out all their transactions on a cash basis.

Still a Dangerous Game

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kues

And, says Merkley, that’s a recipe for disaster that predictably led to a string of robberies and other violent crimes against cannabis businesses that continues to this day.

Exit at Your Own Risk

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Cast Of Thousands

“Employees are mugged when they come out of their offices because people think they’re carrying cash,” Merkley reports.

He Wanted to Make It SAFER

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PanuShot

That’s why, knowing what he did about the business, Merkley introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act.

The aim was to free up banks to finally do business with legitimate cannabis dispensaries and related firms.

A Long, Bumpy Road

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

In the eight years since the original version saw the light of day in 2015, the bill has come up for committee votes several times.

And it’s undergone several revisions.

Finally in the Limelight

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Cheri Alguire

But now, the latest SAFER iteration finally made it out of committee and is headed for the Senate floor.

No Big Mystery

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / wellphoto

When asked by CNN’s Before the Bell why it had taken so long to get this far, and what was different now, Merkley had an easy answer.

It Affects Them Now

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

It’s because more and more states now understand the problems and what’s at stake for banks and business owners.

Alarm Bells Are Ringing

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

“The issue and problems of a pure cash economy have grown across the country,” Merkley says. And now that more Senators are seeing the after-effects in their own jurisdiction, their alarm bells are going off.

He Never Gave Up

Image Credit: Shutterstock / file404

Whether or not the bill passes into law in the near term is yet to be seen.

But Merkley can at least hang his hat on persisting and pushing this far.

Follow the Money

Image Credit: Shutterstock / ViDI Studio

All the other Senators really needed to drag them along, it seems, was to remember the old adage, and just follow the money.

IS PUTIN DEAD? Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Believes So! Here’s Everything We Know About Putin’s Stunt Double

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Frederic Legrand – COMEO

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief is among many who believe that Putin may have serious health issues, with some even claiming that he’s no longer alive! IS PUTIN DEAD? Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Believes So! Here’s Everything We Know About Putin’s Stunt Double

Ukraine Changes Tactics In a Shock Move That Has Turned the War on Its Head

Image Credit: Shutterstock / paparazzza

After a slow start, Ukraine’s counter-offensive is finally taking its toll on Russian forces, with the Ukrainians taking back a massive 42 miles of territory since the offensive started 3 months ago. Ukraine Changes Tactics In a Shock Move That Has Turned the War on Its Head

Trump’s Pet Judge Just Handed Trump His Doom on a Platter

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Potashev Aleksandr

Federal Judge Aileen Cannon recently issued an order clarifying the rules for handling classified information in former President Donald Trump’s ongoing legal battle about government documents found in his Mar-a-Lago estate, and some see it as a clear indication that Trump will be losing this case. Trump’s Pet Judge Just Handed Trump His Doom on a Platter

“And Down Goes Joe” – Biden’s Former Communications Director Reveals Inside Scoop as Polls Continue to Plunge

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Golden Brown

During a recent appearance on CNN This Morning, former Biden Communications Director Kate Bedingfield discussed the path ahead for the Biden administration in the face of the dwindling poll numbers. Here’s the full story. “And Down Goes Joe” – Biden’s Former Communications Director Reveals Inside Scoop as Polls Continue to Plunge

Fun Fact: Donald Trump Can Rightly Claim to Be the ONLY Living President Whose Family Never…

Image Credit: Shutterstock / lev radin

Donald Trump is one of the most divisive figures in U.S. history, and he generally doesn’t sit well with minorities. But there’s one area where he has all other presidents beat. Here is the full story. Fun Fact: Donald Trump Can Rightly Claim to Be the ONLY Living President Whose Family Never…

The post Senate Bill Could End Cash-Only Days for Marijuana Dispensaries first appeared on Career Step Up.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Adam Melnyk. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

+ posts