Majority of Americans Want Congress to Act on Cannabis Banking

An American Bankers Association survey shows that a majority of Americans want cannabis banking access for legal businesses.
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According to data collected in a national survey, released March 8, conducted by Morning Consult, and on behalf of the American Bankers Association, the majority of Americans want Congress to get the ball rolling with cannabis banking reform. 

Lack of banking access forces cannabis businesses to deal in cash—which has proven to be exceedingly reckless. A dangerous pattern of robberies formed in certain states related to cannabis, money, and how the two intersect. 

The survey data suggests that the majority of Americans are satisfied with their bank account, but the survey also questioned participants about their views on allowing cannabis businesses to have access to banking institutions and whether that should be allowed. 

The survey examined consumer views on cannabis banking. A strong majority of American adults—65 percent—support allowing cannabis businesses to access banking services such as checking accounts and business loans in states where cannabis is legal, while only 15 percent oppose. Furthermore, 68 percent of Americans said that Congress should pass legislation so that cannabis businesses can “access banking services and products in states” where it is legal.

Seven in 10 support Congress passing legislation that allows cannabis businesses to access banking services such as checking accounts and business loans, at least in states where cannabis is legal. In many of those states, the businesses still deal in cash. 

“Consumers clearly agree that now is the time to resolve the ongoing conflict between state and federal law so banks can serve legal cannabis and cannabis-related businesses,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “Doing so will help banks meet the needs of their communities while enhancing public safety, increasing the efficiency of tax collections and improving the financial transparency of the cannabis industry.”

Leaders from NORML applauded the new batch of data, particularly for the survey’s inclusion of people’s views on cannabis businesses.

“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’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, commenting on the polling data. “It is also clear that the status quo is actively hurting small businesses and creating unnecessary barriers to entry for entrepreneurs from those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by decades of cannabis prohibition. 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.”

According to recent data from the U.S. Treasury Department, only about 11 percent of all U.S. banks and about four percent of all U.S. credit unions are providing banking services to cannabis-related businesses.

In early February, the House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act as part of a separate bill—marking the sixth time the lower chamber of Congress has passed the legislation to grant cannabis businesses access to banking and other financial services.

Members of the House adopted provisions of the banking bill as an amendment to legislation drafted to support U.S. manufacturing and improve competitiveness with China known as the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength Act of 2022 (America COMPETES Act of 2022).

NORML cited survey data compiled earlier this year by Whitney Economics. That survey reported that over 70 percent of cannabis businesses say that the lack of access to banking services or investment capital is their top challenge. While 42 percent of respondents cited state regulations as the most significant burden facing the industry, only 39 percent cited the influence of the black market.

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